Emma Nutrition

Simplifying the science through cooking and education. When I'm not on Mummy duties…

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DIY Sports Isotonic Drink

Isotonic drinks are super easy to make so it does make me wonder why we aren’t all doing it! Marketing has a lot to answer for… The competition for sports drinks market share is huge with phenomenal spend per year going on research and development and communicating the ‘rehydration’ message to consumers.  The sports drink industry in the UK is currently at £260m a year while in the US it is projected to reach $2bn by 2016. This rise in sports drink consumption is led by the belief that we cannot hydrate with water alone and that fluid intake is as critical to athletic performance as proper training is.

The ‘water isn’t good enough’ belief system is fed to consumers and developed through interwoven relationships with research institutes and professional athletes – all funded by multinationals. Oh the complex web! In 2001 PepsiCo bought Gatorade. Coca-Cola owns Powerade while the pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) owns Lucozade. Powerade was a partner company to the London 2012 Olympics and Powerade a service provider to the London 2012 Olympics. On a more local scale sports drinks and supplement companies aim to work with gyms and gym instructors. Virgin Active has a partnership with Powerade, for example, and the GSK owned supplement brand, Maxinutrition (previously Maximuscle), has a partnership with LA Fitness. It has become common for athletes to test and monitor hydration levels and to reason that performance was altered or hindered by dehydration – lack of hydration. Therefore the athlete needs to hydrate as quickly and efficiently as possible with the best possible combination of fluids and nutrients. The link between what they drank and what performance levels were has become a measure of success. Drinking ahead of thirst and training your gut to tolerate more fluid are added marketing bonuses…. Or are they? Where does the truth lay? Is the science being overcomplicated in an effort to increase sales? Or just over-marketed?

I will admit to being a staunch believer in pre-hydration and sports drinks for athletes or those exercising for more than an hour; I also don’t see the problem with using clinical trials and scientific evidence to disseminate information in an effort to increase sales. I aim for 3L (I usually reach 2L) per day of water to maintain optimum health so it stands to reason that athletes need even more fluid due to sweating. I will also admit however to basing my beliefs on the science of those of my generation. My bible of sports nutrition Practical Sports Nutrition written by Louise Burke PhD who works for the Australian Institute of Sport often sits on my desk as a reference tool. Many studies I read have the name Ron Maughan in them (an eminent researcher in sports nutrition and professor at Loughborough University). However my own knowledge and those of my peers may even be swayed by the multinationals – Louise Burke and Ron Maughan both have financial links (personal or institutional) to Gatorade and their book Food, Nutrition and Sports Performance II: The International Olympic Committee Consensus on Sports Nutrition, published in 2004 was supported by Coca-Cola, the makers of Powerade. While this may sound biased it isn’t necessarily so – research needs funding from somewhere and a respected professional wont want to lose any of their professional integrity by publishing research that is against their ethos even if it fits a multinationals marketing requirements.

It is however a fine line. Just as a GP can be swayed to prescribe a certain drug because the pharma manufacturer took them on a nice break to the Caribbean (for a conference of course) or gave them a free lunch a sports nutritionist or gym instructor too can be swayed by power and money.

Recently I came across Dr Tim Noakes who is viewed as a maverick in the medical world. He has a book called Waterlogged that takes you inside the science of athlete hydration for a fascinating look at the human body’s need for water and how it uses the liquids it ingests. This, like most of the conclusions I come to regarding health, brings us back to the principle that every body is different. Just as we metabolise and utilise vitamins and minerals differently so we do water. Listen to your body, find out what works for you. Which practices make you feel great and which ones do you need to change?

In the meantime here is a DIY recipe for a sports isotonic drink. This is a drink I rarely use myself as I’m not an endurance athlete but it has been trialled and is often used by athletes I work with.

DIY Sports Drink 

Ingredients: DIY Isotonic Drink

700ml water

30gm fructose aka fruit sugar

20gm sucrose aka sugar

1/4 tspn sea or mineral salt

10ml lemon juice bottled or fresh

Method: Combine and mix well. That’s it!

This costs approximately 10p or 20c to make – a few pence more if you splash the cash and use a real lemon 😉



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Become a Nutrition Expert and Help People Fulfil Their potential

Become a Nutrition Expert and Help People Fulfil Their potential

Do you feel the urge to help people live healthier lives? Are you the go-to person for Nutrition advice? Or do you feel you could offer a more rounded service as a personal trainer, health coach, acupuncturist, herbalist, yoga teacher etc?

If you find yourself researching the latest dietary trends and physiology of metabolism you may wish to consider  formalising your education and finding a community of like-minded individuals. While you can ‘make it’ through self-education, you can really ‘make it’ by offering something extra to your clients. Girl doing Weights

See, some personal trainers are blessed. You might even be one of them. You might have a natural confidence, the ability to build rapport with almost anyone and a knack for selling in your services.

But give your clients something extra and they will do most of the legwork on promotion for you.

Nutrition. It’s an irresistible ‘something extra’ – especially this time of year. Add in-depth dietary knowledge to your personal training or coaching repertoire and you could generate stacks of business from your dedicated clients who see you as their go-to advisor.

Set yourself apart

When you’re starting out as a gym instructor, you’re faced with some heavy business challenges – one being that many gym-goers like to think they know everything they need to, and therefore do not require your help.

This is less of a problem when it comes to nutrition … but that side of the profession comes with its own set of obstacles.

People (particularly the health-conscious) need genuine, proven and trustworthy advice when it comes to what they consume. If you’re half-heartedly advising clients on what to eat post-workout, or if you struggle to answer their diet-related questions, it can show weakness in your skills elsewhere.

If a client loses faith in you because of some poor nutritional guidance, then they could lose faith in you altogether.

On the flipside, if you confidently deliver the correct nutritional direction for your clients (even if they’re not paying you for it yet), then you’re offering that crucial ‘something extra’. You’re more than just another gym instructor – you’re a health and fitness authority.

To get hold of the knowledge you need and set yourself apart from the next trainer that comes along, take a course – get an actual nutrition qualification for your hard work.

It takes six weeks on average to complete the Level 3 Weight and Management course from Health and Fitness Education.

Anybody can apply. I’m not suggesting this course will give you everything you need to know but starting with a formal qualification will give you a solid foundation, credibility and the tools to know where to find further information and when to refer to a more qualified specialist who will refer back to you too. If you can set up good relationships with other health professionals in your area (even Nutritionists) you can all work together to help not only each other but your clients. Lets face it; we are all here because we are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives.

6 week nutrition course

The material provided on this course is second to none – I’ve reviewed it, along with their Pilates course.

You receive a nutrition booklet that’s loaded with scientific theory, evidence and examples for you to work off. Every single word has been placed in there by fitness experts who’ve done all this before.

The content debunks several myths around dieting, eating disorders and disease prevention.

So, you’re only ever delivering factually sound advice to your clients when it comes to nutrition. Simply guessing at a subject as serious as health can be dangerous to your client’s wellbeing … and to that of your career.

The world’s attitude to health and fitness changes a lot. A new discovery is made by a scientist, picked up by several tabloids and goes viral within hours. It happens all the time.

How do you keep up with that? You lock the fundamentals of health and fitness down first (and that’s exactly what you’ll get from HFE’s up-to-date nutrition course), then adapt the learning’s to any real industry shifts.

You can separate the ‘real’ from the hyped-up theories because after the course, you’ll have the fundamentals locked down and you already know how to spot a myth in the fitness sector.

It’s up to you …

Beyond your qualification, it’s up to you to stay on top of the latest nutritional breakthroughs. And it’s always recommended that you refresh your knowledge through your own research.

For example, HFE recently broke down the healthy body fat percentages for males and females, of five different age groups, just last month via its blog. This is the type of bitesize information you can relay to clients when they ask things during a session.


What’s your most commonly asked question on nutrition? Share it in the comments below and let’s see if we can identify a trend.

This was a sponsored post from HFE. I have reviewed their courses and online structure and give my endorsement of the content of their courses.


Belly dancing for the feel good factor

Today I’ve been chatting to the delightful Charni over at Belly Dance Lessons Online. She is the queen of belly dancing and also a lovely Aussie lady. I’m a huge fan of hers. For years I’ve wanted to learn to belly dance. I even signed up to a class once but when I arrived the teacher didn’t show up. I never did find out why though so I hope she was okay! Unfortunately I never booked another class. My love of belly dancing probably started when my dad and stepmother took me along to a Turkish restaurant that had a belly dancer. Even though the belly dancer had some wobbly parts to her belly I thought she was beautiful. As Charni says “we celebrate the wobbly bits, we wiggle and jiggle and giggle. We can see that a curvy dancer looks beautiful, we see that women of all shapes and sizes and ages attend the class, and it is not the size that determines how well we belly dance.”

This is where belly dance and more creative or expressive movement can help with body confidence, memory and gaining that feel good factor. The aim of these classes is to help us feel better about the shape we are TODAY, not how we may look tomorrow. Continue reading

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The top predicted fitness trends for 2014

The top two fitness trends for 2014 will be high-intensity interval training, such as P90X and CrossFit, and body-weight training such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and planks, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual fitness trends survey which has just been published. Continue reading


Benefits of exercise in the water

Relaxing in the pool sounds pretty good right now huh? I find it always does when I don’t have to put loads of layers on afterwards. Jeans, tshirt and flip flops and I’m ready to go home after my swim! In winter its more cumbersome but I try to keep it easy with post swim clothing of jeans, hoodie and my trusty slip on snow boots. In fact this all sounds so simple I really should go swimming more often!


Getting a bit more physical in the water and adding pool aerobics to your exercise routine. Why? Because not only do water workouts avoid much of the strain you’d feel on land, they can be incredibly intense. How else did you think Michael Phelps and the other Olympic swimmers got so incredibly toned?

Here are some of the many ways that you can benefit from water exercises:


This is actually one of the main reasons that water workouts got a bit of a bad name, because they are often recommended for pregnant women and older adults. But do you know who else uses them? Rehabbing professional athletes. Low-impact does not mean lowered results, just that you are getting a great workout without putting unnecessary strain on your body. Obviously it’s great for anyone who needs to take a bit more care, but for those in perfect health, it just means less wear and tear.

Burn calories

Pool exercises may seem incredibly easy on dry land, but the average water aerobics class burns 400 to 500 calories per hour.

Work your core

Water is the perfect place to exercise your core in a way that doesn’t cause undue strain. Many classes incorporate abdominal exercises, as well as things like water walking, kicks, and bicycling.

Build strength faster

Water is 12 times more resistant than air, so simply moving around in the pool is an exercise. Even better, swimming works all of your muscles to some degree, because when you’re enveloped in water, every part of your body is under the same amount of pressure. Add in pool “tools” like noodles, buoys, water paddles, and kickboards and you can really work those muscles.

Increase range of motion

There are plenty of range of motion exercises that you can do on dry land, but then you’re competing with gravity. The weightlessness of water allows you to move your arms and legs with ease without causing problems in your joints.

Go easier on your heart

Take a mile-long jog and it may take your heart a few minutes to settle back down into a restful rhythm. But if you work out in an equivalent manner in a pool, your heart will return to rest much more quickly.

Breathe (and beat) better

Not only are water exercises “easier” on your heart in the way described above, they can actually help to increase the level of fitness for your heart and lungs because you will be constantly “exercising” by swimming in the water. This increases their endurance without forcing them to strain.

Stimulate circulation
Immersing ourselves in water has been shown to increase circulation by soothing and relaxing the body.

Heal faster

We keep dancing around it (other than the mention of professional athletes using water workouts in the beginning), but pool exercises are a fantastic way to stay active and rehab parts of your body without putting it through too much stress. That is one of the main reasons that pregnant women and older adults use it, but that doesn’t have to make it a negative thing. Pool exercises are just as effective as those on land – and sometimes more so! – without many of the negative aspects.

This content was adapted from an article by Ken Campbell who has written for the health and fitness industry for many years.


Vitamin C reduces exercise induced asthma

Vitamin C reduces exercise induced asthma aka broncho constriction or the decline of 10% or greater forced exercise volume within 1 second (FEV1). Dr. Harri Hemila from the University of Helsinki, Finland did a meta-analysis of Vitamin C studies and found that exercise induced wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, known exercise induced asthma can be reduced by taking Vitamin C at a minimum dose of 200mg.

About 10% of the general population suffers from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, but among some fields of competitive winter sports the prevalence can be up to 50%. In sports such as marathon running and skiing there is a 48% reduction in FEV1.

Vitamin C also halves the incidence of common cold episodes in people enduring heavy short-term physical stress.

Dr. Hemila concludes that given the low cost and safety of vitamin C and the consistency of positive findings in three randomized trials on EIB, it seems reasonable for physically active people to test vitamin C on an individual basis if they have respiratory symptoms such as cough associated with exercise.

Vitamin C may alleviate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: a meta-analysis. Harri Hemilä. BMJ Open 2013;3:6 e002416 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002416


Endurance training and lifestyle

Here is an article I wrote during my Masters studies that was printed in a cycling magazine:

Achieving a balance between endurance training and your lifestyle; can Nutrition help?

The ideal circumstances for most endurance athletes would be to train as much as possible and spend their remaining hours of the day resting and recovering. The reality of balancing a job, social life and training means that many people aren’t able to do this and can risk overtraining, overworking or overplaying. All of this can be dangerous to the body, depleting the immune system, reducing cellular nutrient levels and putting additional stress on internal organs. This can affect training and racing performance as well as causing long term damage.

What is endurance training?

Endurance is described as the ability or power to bear prolonged exertion, pain, or hardship. Not for the faint hearted it requires staying power and stamina for repeated long distance training and racing.

Why is nutrition important?

Daily dietary patterns play a pivotal role in athletic performance providing the platform from which an athlete is ready to compete. To achieve and maintain the correct physique for the sport being undertaken as well as to optimise recovery between training nutrition must be considered a priority.

Nutrition goals for training

• Meet the energy requirements needed to support a training program
• Serve as a means to achieve optimal physique, BMI, fat levels, muscle mass consistent with good health.
• Enhance adaption and recovery between training sessions.
• Refuel and rehydrate before, during and after sessions.
• Maintain health and function of all bodily systems at a cellular level.

Nutrition goals for competition

• Achieve optimal weight division if required.
• Load up on nutrients required to ensure optimal energy and performance.
• Achieve hydration before, during and after the event without causing gastric upset.
• Maintain glucose levels during events lasting more than 1 hour without causing gastric upset.
• Provide sustenance after an event to ensure recovery, particularly in multi-day events.

Effects of inadequate nutrition on the Immune System

Perhaps not the most obvious affect of prolonged exercise is the depletion of the immune system. Following exercise there is a window of opportunity for bacteria and virus to take a foothold and cause infection. Further studies are being undertaken on the details of this however there is substantial evidence that carbohydrate drinks decrease the level of infection and there is no doubt that the increased amount of exercise increases nutrient requirements. A combination of different coloured vegetables and a quality antioxidant supplement will increase the immune response, ensuring infection doesn’t occur and that free radicals caused by exercise are excreted from the body.

Overall Effects of inadequate Nutrition

The better known effects are those of impaired ability short and long term due to insufficient intake of macronutrients and micronutrients. It is essential for athletes to ensure they consume adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat as well as vitamins and minerals. These should be consumed in the correct amounts and at the right time.

Before a race or training session hydration is vital. This should be done with fluids that have some electrolytes (minerals) and carbohydrate that will be broken down into glycogen and used for energy so that muscle stores are not used. As well as a concentrated supplement consume a meal 4-6 hours before that contains complex carbohydrates: potato, wholewheat pasta, cous cous, and brown rice.

During exercise lasting over 60 minutes glycogen and fluid stores are depleted. This means energy levels will rapidly drop, and performance will suffer. Muscles will become weaker, nerve impulses slower and lactic acid will build up. Hydrating with water is possible for low level exertion for a short time but after this water will not be absorbed quickly enough. The gut wall needs a combination of electrolytes and sugars to get the water across the wall and into the blood stream. Without these cramps in the stomach and muscles will develop. Using a high calorie energy bar that is easy to digest can help with energy levels.

After exercise pain and stiffness will develop as the endorphins levels become lower. Hydrating during exercise will decrease post exercise pain although sweating and urine losses of fluids still occur after. To compensate for these losses fluid balance should be achieved within 4-6 hours. Drink plenty of water slowly over this time and take a fast acting carbohydrate drink. To ensure you can get the most out of your body for the next session have a lean protein meal within 2 hours, and take an amino acid protein supplement as it repairs muscle fibres and improves elasticity.

Following this take some time to rest and recover!

Some people may also benefit from other supplements such as Coenzyme Q10 for cellular energy or glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM for joint repair. Not all endurance athletes need these however and your Nutrition specialist should be able to advise on your particular needs.



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Running coaching with Olympian athlete Liz Yelling

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a running coaching session with the marathon Olympian runner and coach Liz Yelling. Also training us was the delightful Sarah Russell from Sarah’s runners and Elle from Studio 57


The aim of the 90 minute session was to work on style and set some goals for whatever your particular target was. There were runners of all different levels…..some fast sprinters, some longer distance runners and then there was me! Having had a couple of pregnancies fraught with challenges and in quick succession I'm frustrated to be much slower than I was. A c-section 11 months ago has really played havoc with my abdominal muscles too….aka they seem to have disappeared! Alas I try to get out there and run, walk, do pilates and strength training. While I can regularly run 6km pushing my double pram I am aware I have become a bit of a shuffler. I was delighted to be offered the chance of resetting my goals and reminding my body how to run to prevent injury.

We were a slightly nervous bunch of 50 ladies but Liz, Sarah, Elle and Helen from Spatone soon set us at ease. Then we were off running around Battersea Park track. My friend Lucy and I were amazed at how good it felt to run on a track as it had been years for both of us. It’s so bouncy!

Elle then took us through some dynamic stretches – she says these are better for fast running and slow stretches are better for longer distance running. Makes sense as the dynamic engage the muscles and get them fired up, whereas the slow stretches encourage long lean calm muscles that aren’t going to exhaust themselves too early on.

We then split into 2 groups: one group with Liz and the other group with Sarah. Lucy and I started off with Sarah, who is so bubbly and warm you just want to give her a little hug. I didn’t… I did however partake in her mini sprint sessions to put into practice her advice.

Sarah’s tips

Arms – running starts with the arms. Keep them at a 90 degree angle and pump them backwards engaging the triceps. Ensure you don’t bring them up too close to your face. Keep your shoulders down and pump those arms hard keeping them controlled. FYI my triceps were very sore afterward so it’s a free triceps workout!

Headlights – imagine that your erm…chest…and hips have headlights on them. Keep them pointed up and straight. It’s easy enough to remember one of these alone but try practicing with both sets of headlights on, up and straight. It’s a bit like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time! Once you master it, it does keep your posture in check and feel more comfortable.

Heels to bum – kick those heels up so they hit your bum. It’s engages the poor old much forgotten hamstring muscles, on the back of the legs and between the knee and the hip. If the hamstrings are not being utilised you will overuse the quadriceps at the front of the leg and put additional pressure on the knee. For those of you, like me, who are starting to suffer with sore knees this is crucial.

One leg squats – practice these to help stabilise the core and strengthen the glutes ie the bum. The stronger the glutes, the less pressure on the rest of the leg.

Core stability – engage the core, like in Pilates, to keep the hips in check. It also prevents you overextending other areas.

After doing these drills with Sarah we then started with Liz. While I may have been more energetic and faster with Liz I feel that doing the drills first set me up to practice what I had just learned.

Liz’s tips


5-10k runners – you should be able to say 3-4 words while running and be on the verge of discomfort.

Half marathon – marathon runners – you should be able to have a conversation and be a little more comfortable than experiencing discomfort.

Train to threshold – you should feel you can maintain that pace for the duration of your event or run. You must be careful to not start off too fast then hit a wall and slow down dramatically.

While this sounds fairly obvious I actually had no idea really what my threshold was. I know I run (pushing 35kg in the form of a double pram) at approximately 8km/hr or 5miles/hr but what could I run at without a pram in order to maintain a specified distance… We did laps of the 400m track, timed by Liz, to work out our threshold speed for a half marathon or a marathon. I’m a sprinter at heart so off I went and got a time of 1.45min for 400m which out me at a speed of 8min per mile or in my language 7.5 miles per hour. Optimistic… There wasn’t a chance I could have maintained that for very long so I did the next ones slower averaging 2.05, more like 6.6 miles per hour. Now I have proof that I can run faster. I have some times no work towards should I choose to do a race.

Interval training – this is imperative for running. As I’ve experienced it’s so easy to just plod along without actually increasing your fitness or speed. We did 2 minute intervals at threshold pace (the pace you could maintain for the race distance you would like to achieve) then immediately completed 2 minutes fast/sprinting for 4 laps each. Ouch!

Elle took us through some nice stretches to finish off the session.

I have to tell you I was sore afterwards. It was worth it though and so helpful. All of the experts were approachable and lovely people. Spatone gave us some samples as a bonus and my friend I then went to a lovely 5* hotel for some restorative refreshments (I recommend the green tea and water as nutritionally beneficial but the prosecco not so much!) and tapas.



To win Spatone supplements go to this link to enter a competition


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Is sitting bad for your health?

Much research has identified obvious reasons not to sit for long periods. The negative health aspects to health of sitting for long periods, such as neck, shoulder or back pain are no doubt familiar to most of us.

However, new research has identified much more serious consequences from being sedentary, which include heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The study found diabetes type 2 risk was elevated by 20% and by 15% for heart disease when seated for a prolonged period. The increase of diabetes may have been due to the effects of glucose and insulin levels in the blood when sitting. The study found that walking for 2 minutes every 20 minutes controlled glucose and therefore insulin levels by more than 20%, than just remaining seated after consuming a test drink (sugar based).

In another study exercise has been shown to increase intelligence! Interviews were conducted at regular age intervals from the age of 11 to monitor levels of exercise. Those who had exercised two to three times per month or more scored higher in memory, attention and intelligence tests than those who had not.

So what exactly is prolonged sitting?

It is classified as anything more than 11 hours per day….which may sound a long time but really it isn’t when you consider that many people sit at work or in front of a TV or computer much of their day and evening. The above study recommended sitting for less than 4 hours per day and that “public health programs should focus on reducing sitting time in addition to increasing physical activity levels”.

Now I don’t know about you but I find sitting is very beneficial. As long as it is interspersed with regular activity I feel that it is good personally for reducing blood pressure, stabilising blood glucose and increasing a feeling of wellbeing. When I was working in an office I found the sitting part of my day never occurred for too long a period – hence the constant hallway/tearoom chats and standing up to type or chat on the phone. I was a restless colleague! When I travelled in the car alot (3-4hrs/day) for meetings I was certainly at my peak of unhealthiness!

What to do?

I suggest that regular activity, even simply the motion of standing up or stretching out may be enough to counteract this sitting problem. An ergonomically friendly chair, a good stretch, some deep breathing exercises and a positive outlook have to be better than trying to keep constantly active – that just sounds exhausting right?! This study even backs up this theory stating that “increased mortality risk for prolonged sitting only (occurs) among participants not meeting physical activity guidelines”.

So there you have it. Rest and recuperate but get off your bum regularly and shake it all about!


A good reason to run?

Source: runwiki.org viaRob on Pinterest