I don’t have time…..

There is no denying that we all lead busy lives; working, looking after family, managing the house, meeting friends or family, catching on on the latest box set, keeping up with social media – not to mention the rest! What about improving your health and well-being through exercise? One of the most common barriers to exercise is lack of time. I commonly get asked by friends, family and clients “how on earth do you train for an ultra or a triathlon with everything else going on?” The answer; I plan, prioritise and I enjoy it!

  • I plan my time carefully! I share a google calendar with my husband as we prioritise our professional and personal commitments differently. This enables us to see what appointments we have at the drop of a hat and ensures ‘down time’ together as a family. When I first started back exercising after having my eldest child I set aside ‘me time’ as an appointment in the diary; as I would going to the dentist. I tried to be accurate in my timings; for example 35 minutes for a run (5 minutes to get ready, 20 minutes to run and stretch then 10 minutes to shower and change). I have to be a little more flexible these days due to an increased volume of training and two very demanding kids. On a Sunday evenings I take 10 minutes to plan my training for the coming week. Watch the film The Pursuit of Happiness or, if time is of the essence, this short clip from from TedTalk on time management for inspiration.
  • I set realistic goals! I love having a goal to aim for as it keeps me motivated and less likely to find an excuse not to get out here and do it – yes, we are all the same and only human! Build in time for holidays, injuries, other more pressing matters that crop up unexpectedly so you have flexibility in your training plan.
  • I enjoy it! Anything you do that you don’t enjoy is a chore so if you don’t like running don’t sign for a 10km race as your goal.  There are lots of options for cardio and resistance training whether it be racket sports, exercise classes, individual pursuits or water sports – its about finding something that is right for you and that you will enjoy and be likely to stick at. If you don’t know a good approach is to give everything a try, see if ‘the shoe fits’!
  • I train with friends! Before I joined a running club I ran with a friend who happened to start at the same time as me. We blossomed together, both in our fitness and friendship. Many of us have a well established social circle however you can never have too many friends. I would not have had the pleasure of meeting some of mine if it wasn’t for our shared passion for health and fitness. I look forward to going to my clubs not only for the exercise but for the comradery! As a personal trainer I have also made great friends along the way, helping clients break down their barriers and achieve their fitness goals. Combine fitness with friendships and meet for a brisk walk and catch up instead of the local coffee shop.
  • The bigger picture! Most of us have many roles to fulfill; a mother, a wife, a business owner, a daughter, sister and a friend and time is precious. I want to do all these to the best of my ability and by being happy, healthy, strong and confident I can achieve all these and more. Start by being active most days, whether that involves taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking instead of the car or carrying the shopping bags back to the house. Think of the impact your current lifestyle will have in years to come and if you don’t like what you see ‘take the bull by the horns’ and, with small steps, start to make some changes.  Fit + Fabulous is a very good way to get you started, break down your barriers and maximise your health and fitness!

 

Fitness Testing – April Challenge

Monday 3rd April I will launch my ‘Get Fit For Summer HITT Challenge’ which is free to all Fit + Fabulous Facebook friends @fitfabul0us. In order to track progress and see results I suggest that this week you carry out one or 2 of the following fitness tests. There are several that you can can do for resistance or cardiovascular fitness and require little or no equipment; take your pick:

  • Squat test – as many as you can with no rest until unable to continue.
  • Sit up test – as many sit ups as you can in 30 seconds with no rest.
  • Press up test – as many as you can with no rest until unable to continue.
  • Rockport test – walk 1 mile as fast as you can without stopping.
  • Cooper test – run for 12 minutes continuously without stopping at the same pace.

By carrying out these tests at the start and then repeating the same ones at the end of the month, will enable you to monitor your fitness results clearly. You can also take body measurements at the start and then at the end of the month if your goal is for weight loss.

If you have any queries please contact me!

I practice what I preach when it comes to nutrition…..

Nutrition is key to success whether it be in sports performance or weight loss. I get asked regularly to share what I eat with my clients to help inspire them with their diet. I don’t cut anything out from my nutrition and instead I have everything in moderation. Control is not something I have always had over my diet, as a teenager, for 7 years I suffered from an eating disorder.  I was severely under weight, food controlled my life and I did anything I could to avoid eating. Now, I appreciate the value of a healthy, balanced diet and the importance it has on my mental well being and active lifestyle as a mother and personal trainer.  

As a mother, I hope my son and daughter enjoy their food and have different cultural influences, expanding their experience and knowledge in order to make informed decisions about what is a healthy diet. As a personal trainer, I want my clients to identify the importance food has on improving their mental and physical health and and reduce the risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancers and obesity;  all of which are on the increase in the UK and associated with poor diets and lack of exercise.

All clients with Fit + Fabulous complete food diaries on an online application which I monitor and analyse weekly. My analysis is based on UK government and NHS guidelines in conjunction with my knowledge of sports nutrition. I am looking for each client to gain an understanding of portion sizes, food groups (fats and sweets; dairy; meat fish and alternatives; fruit; vegetables and pulses grains and cereals) and macros (protein, fat and carbohydrate). Each client depending on their energy intake are allocated a recommended portion amount per food group which replaces counting calories. All of this is related to weight loss or enhancing sports performance.

For the last week I completed my own food diary to give an example of what I persevere as a balanced diet for an active female with my build. I class myself as very active, doing at least an hour of moderate to intense exercise per day. My macros change daily depending on the exercise I undertake, for example on the days I lift weights my protein levels will increase to help aid recovery and build muscle.  Portion sizes are not given as this would be individualised depending on your personal statistics. Please note that this is for example purposes only and not to be copied. Please get in touch for your own personal analysis.

Monday

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, wholemeal bread, tea with milk

Snack: Cashew and brazil nuts with dried mixed berries and coffee

Lunch: Giant couscous and quinoa salad and oven baked chicken breast

Snack: 4 seafood sticks, peanut butter with breadsticks and coffee

Dinner: Pasta in a home made tomato and spinach sauce with chicken and green beans

Snack: Melon and grapes

Tuesday

Breakfast: Weetabix minis fruit and nut, skimmed milk and tea with milk

Snack: Sunflower and pumpkin seed mix, 300mls skimmed milk and banana protein shake

Lunch: Spiced lentil warm salad with breast of chicken and mango

Snack: Black grapes, peanuts, banana and coffee

Dinner: Baked salmon fillet, sweet potato, broccoli, peas and mangetout

Wednesday

Breakfast: 2 poached eggs, wholemeal bread, tea with milk

Snack: Carrots, sweet peas and low fat hummus, coffee

Lunch: Homemade chicken and vegetable soup with wholemeal bagel and banana

Snack: Frozen strawberries, raspberries and pineapple, 300mls skimmed milk protein shake, coffee

Dinner: Homemade lasagna with mixed vegetable medley

Snack: Dark chocolate and ginger biscuit with green tea

Thursday

Breakfast: 2 poached eggs, wholemeal bread and tea with milk

Snack: Apple, brazil and cashew nuts with dried berries, coffee

Lunch: Oatcakes, homemade smoked mackerel pate with cherrie tomatoes and mixed leaves

Dinner: breast of chicken, bulgar wheat and bean salad with sweetcorn, peas and carrots

Snack: Grapes, melon and green tea

Friday

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs on wholemeal bagel and tea with milk

Snack: melon and avocado with coffee

Lunch: Brie, cranberry and bacon wholemeal seeded toasty with side salad

Snack: Homemade banana loaf and coffee

Dinner: Homemade beef and mixed bean chili, basmati rice, corn chips with cheese and 250ml glass of red wine

Saturday

Breakfast: Eggs Benedict and glass fresh orange

Snack: 1/2 danish pastry with coffee

Lunch: New potato, prawn and avocado salad

Snack: Cashew and peanuts with coffee

Dinner: Homemade tuna stir fry with egg noodles and 300ml of white wine followed by creme brulee

Sunday

Brunch: Grilled tomato, portobello mushroom, 1 slice bacon, 2 scrambled eggs with coffee

Snack: Mixed berries and seed protein smoothie

Dinner: Homemade fish pie with peas and crusty bread

As you can see I try and eat a variety of foods from each food group to ensure that I am getting as much vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables and the appropriate amount of non saturated fats, proteins and carbohydrates I need to fuel and recover from exercise.  Drinking water regularly throughout the day also helps me feel hydrated, carries those essential nutrients to the working muscles and avoids me mistaking thirst for hunger.  I eat every 3-4 hours a day to avoid fatigue from drop in blood glucose levels. This helps me curb any cravings for high sugar foods. I eat a mixture of low to high glucose index foods to ensure I get enough fiber in my diet and when required quickly replace carbohydrates that I burn through exercise.  glucoseindex.com

The following chart gives a good indication to what the UK guidelines are for tallying up your own portions per food groups to see if you are getting a healthy balanced diet.

foodIf you would like further information on macros or portion sizes or have any comments regarding the blog please get in touch as I’m keen to hear from you.

A puppy is not just for Christmas….

“I want to run a 10km in September.”

“We get married in the Autumn and we both want to lose weight.”

“Its my 40th birthday in June and I want a six pack.”

Just some examples of client’s goals when they come to Fit + Fabulous for personal training. These are perfectly normal short term goals and achievable for most if they apply hard work and dedication. However, if this is you, ask yourself what happens after my holiday, wedding or birthday party? Do I apply all my effort to achieve that goal and then return to my previous state?

I feel a more advantageous view should be longer term and, dare I say it, more of a lifestyle change. We all live for the moment, driven by busy and demanding lifestyles with fads and trends dictating our culture. But what about our future? I want to live long enough to play with my Grandchildren, if I’m blessed enough to have any. I want to create more beautiful memories with my frienddads and family and not have to worry about illness, medication or treatments. Yes, I have short term goals  to keep me motivated and some a little crazy, but they are all part of my long term plan; to live a healthier lifestyle, creating memories and teaching the next generation that health and fitness can be fun and exciting. One of my biggest joys, is a morning cycling on my road bike with my father aged 68 before stopping for coffee and a cake; its a real honor!

Exercise is not a new phenomenon nor should it be intimidating or hard to get started; it should be exciting! I’m naturally impressed by the elite in the fitness industry, who isn’t? Exercise is for everyone and everyone has to start somewhere. What impress me more is when one of my clients, family or friends try something for the first time. They might not like it but at least they have given it a shot and created a memory for themselves. I challenge you to try something new and exciting this year. Something that you have never done before or haven’t done in years.

A good Personal Trainer should encourage their clients, constantly demonstrating empathy, offering support and encouragement along the way. As a personal trainer, I like to suggest trying something a couple of times and not giving up on the first hurdle. If you don’t succeed, if you have done your best, then you have not failed.  Try again! Try approaching it from a difference angle the next time and give it another chance.

 

Fit + Fabulous measuring success.

My previous blog was all about how to make goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-framed) so lets turn “I want to lose weight” into a SMART goal:

I would like to reduce my waist circumference from  87cm to 77cm by adding cardiovascular training twice a week in the form of running and HITT; and core resistance once a week.  I will start a daily food diary and reduce the amount of fats, oils and sweets I eat from 4 portions to 2 and increase my fruit and vegetable from 1 to 5 portions per day. I would like this to happen for my holiday in June which is in six months time.

On the assumption that I have established that is is a achievable and healthy goal for you I would look at different methods of measuring your success during the Fit + Fabulous personal training programme over short, medium and long term periods:

Physical Measurement Assessments.

Physical measurements can be assessed to monitor progress and make adjustments to the end goal if required. Measurements such as BMI, body measurements, waist to hip ratio, photographs, body composition using skin caliper or bio-electrical impedance and scales are all methods used to help monitor weight loss. For example, by taking physical measurements at the start of the programme and agreeing re-test dates such as 2 months, 4 months and 6 months, these figures can map the progress of hitting that all important end goal.  Don’t make your weight the only assessment as it is not the most accurate; ditch the scales and purchase a tape measure.

How to take body measurements:

body

 

It is easier if you get a friend or partner to do the measuring if you don’t have a personal trainer.

Stand tall with your feet together and try and find an identifiable mark like a mole or scar that you can use to re take the measurements again.

Do not hold your breath and breath in, your only kidding yourself!

Exercise.

From the SMART goal we want to establish what you enjoy doing; if its not what you enjoy then there is little chance that its going to be sustainable and you will lack motivation. Exercise for weight loss should be a combination of cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility exercises. A balanced approach will enable the reduction of fatty tissue, tone muscle and improve flexibility within the muscles and around the joints.  It is about being inventive and continually increasing the difficulty of each exercise throughout the course of the programme.

For running, there are different training methods that can be used rather than continuously running which add variety. Fartlek and Interval training are excellent ways of fat burning, training different energy systems and muscle fibre types and increasing aerobic fitness. There is also an excellent assessment to monitor general cardio-respiratory endurance for trained clients which is called the Cooper Test. This involves running the fastest sustainable pace for 12 minutes on treadmill or flat course then comparing your statistics to the relevant norm chart.

There are multiple assessments that can be used to assess muscular strength or endurance, depending on your goal. A common example would be working out your 1 repetition maximum (1RM) which is the heaviest weight you can lift once. For weight loss, muscular endurance tests would be more applicable and these generally involve high repetition of an exercise over a period of time. Lets say we apply the sit up test for you, as its specific to your weight lose and toning goal around the waist. This involves doing full sit ups for 1 minute in a correct and fluid movement and comparing it to the norms chart.

Flexibility can be monitored using many different assessments depending on what area of the body. There is no mention of flexibility in the above goal however I can guarantee if probed a little there will be an area that requires improvement whether its movement at specific joints or muscle groups.  A good test to try is the sit and reach test to assess lower back, hip joint and hamstring flexibility.

Nutrition.

I have said it before and I will say it again “Food is Batman and exercise is Robin!” What do I mean? You can do as much exercise as you like but to get the best outcome whether it be weight lose or sports performance, food will play a vital role in the end result. To change your diet and introduce exercise is no mean feat and really what you are looking to do is completely change your lifestyle. That is not easy and takes time however it is very achievable. Nutrition is about balance and finding something sustainable, not a quick fix.

Start with small steps and change one thing at a time.  For example, if you only eat once piece of fruit a day increase that to 2 and continue with this for a week, then add in another fruit or a vegetable until you hit your goal. Write down all the fruit and vegetables that you can think of, pin it in the kitchen and experiment with them in your diet; make it fun!  To assess your eating take a food diary and plan your meals in advance. The Eatwell Guide is a great starting point of reatwell plateeference.

Assessing progress over short, medium and long term periods enables keeps you motivated and map progress more closely.  Why not give some of the assessments a go for your own 2017 resolutions and keep track of results. For any enquiries please get in touch. Good luck!

Be fit + fabulous in 2017 with achievable goals!

The party season is over and it’s time to set those all important goals for the new year. Like so many people, in the past I have set high standards in the January and failed to maintain them throughout the year. More recently I have focused on making ‘SMART’ goals and applying the ‘FITT’ principles. I’ve found that by setting such goals, its more likely for me to stick to a training or nutrition plan for longer periods of time.  ‘SMART’ goals stand for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating, results-based).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

The achievable and realistic components are are often very subjective and influenced by barriers such as motivation, injury, work and family commitments or unforeseen circumstances. It can be helpful to write your barriers down and have an understanding of what they could be. ‘FITT’ principles stand for:

  • Frequency (how often per week).
  • Intensity (effort level, heart rate zone).
  • Type (cardio, ressistance).
  • Time (minutes per training session).

dsc_7373Lets look at one of my goals I have set for 2017. At the end of June I will compete in my first ever open water, standard distance triathlon on Arran; 1500m swim, 37km bike and 10km run.  By applying the SMART goals and FITT principles I can break the goal down and question if it is appropriate for me.  Its important to note that I can cycle and run at a relatively high level and lets just say my swimming requires a little practice! I have already identified that this event is suitable however what I need to establish is how long I want to complete it in.

SMART SHORT TERM : 2 MONTHS MEDIUM TERM: 4 MONTHS lONG TERM: 6 MONTHS
FREESTYLE SWIMMING Freestyle swimming 1000m in under 25 minutes. Freestyle swimming 1200m in under 30 minutes. Freestyle swimming 1500m in under 40 minutes.
CYCLING Cycling 20km, similar elevation at an average speed of 20kph. Cycling 30km, similar elevation at an average speed of 22kph. Cycling 37km, similar elevation at an average speed of 24kph.
RUNNING Running 5km after cycling in under 25mins (5min/km) Running 8km after cycling in under 40mins Running 10km after cycling in under 50mins

An example of applying the FITT principle to the short term goals of 2 months would look like:

FITT – 2MTHS FREQUENCY INTENSITY TYPE TIME
FREESTYE SWIMMING 2x per week Moderate to hard intensity.

70-80% MHR

1x focus on technique/speed.

1x continuous.

30 mins

 

30mins

CYCLING 2x per week Moderate to hard intensity.

70-80% MaxHR

Short intense spin sessions in the form of HITT.

Continuous hill route.

30mins

 

 

60mins

RUNNING 3x per week Moderate to hard intensity.

60-80% MaxHR

 

Hills sprints.

Tempos session.

Continuous run.

45mins

60mins

>90mins

RESSISTANCE 2x per week Strength training. High resistance x low repetitions (60-75% 1RM x reps 8-12) 1x upper body.

1x lower body.

60mins.

 

runGoals should be reviewed and altered as and when required in order to maintain motivation. When Fit + Fabulous clients goals are established early on in Personal Training sessions, they are continually reviewed and discussed along with potential barriers to maximise individual potential.

Want to learn to run a 10km, build strength in your upper body or lose inches off the hips; why not apply the SMART goals and FITT principals to help you make those all important life goals for 2017 achievable?

My prep in popping the ultra cherry…

I’m training for my first ultra-marathon, 33 miles of scenic Perthshire Scotland in the Glen Ogle 33 on the 5th November. It’s mostly cycle paths, forest paths and some B roads and a great race to pop your ultra-cherry….so I’ve been told!

I was out running 18 miles on Wednesday and followed that with another 10 miles yesterday and I was thinking about what knowledge I have built along the way that I would offer others who are thinking about taking on this distance. Here goes my top tips:

  • Run on the terrain that you are running on race day. I have tried to train on a mixture of road and trail with plenty hills as this reflects Glen Ogle 33. It helps build confidence and prepares the feet, ankles and legs for the big day. My shorter runs I have picked hilly road routes and the longer ones used local trails such as Mugdock, West Highland Way and Kilpatrick Hills.
  • Knowledge is power! Talk to as many, more experienced runners as you can and take from them what you will. Runners love to talk running so listen to the guys that have experience in this field; it’s a unique talent. I found that most ultra-runners have tried various foods, hydration methods, clothing and footwear and it takes time to establish what works as it is very personal. What works for one doesn’t always work for another however you need to be open minded and give tings a try early in your training.
  • Having a good training plan is vital to achieving the distance and time that you want to do on the day. 33 miles is not much more than a marathon so you can train similarly to that of 26 miles or back to back training. I chose back to back training as this suited my lifestyle. I love spreadsheets so I planned a training plan over 12 weeks where I mapped an ascending pyramid of miles up to 50 miles per week with my long run on a Wednesday followed by half the distance on the Thursday and two shorter runs throughout the week. I was already running an average of 30 miles per week before I started training.
  • Don’t neglect strength training, stretching and your roller. Training for an ultra is about being on your feet for as much as possible and getting used to long distances however you are more likely to pick up injuries along the way. Squats, lunges, dead lifts and core has been centre of my strength training once a week. Additionally, after the shorter runs I have been stretching my hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and hip flexors as much as possible and using my roller – it helps and doesn’t actually take too long to do!
  • Practice eating and hydrating on your long runs and start early so you get the right fit for you. The perk, for me, running for hours is eating. I have tried rice pudding, bananas, dried fruit, cereal bars, sandwiches, specific running powders and gels over the weeks and think I’ve settled for bananas, rice pudding and gels. Additionally, electrolytes in my water are vital to keep your mineral balance correct like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate and magnesium. How much water? That has so many variable factors and is unique to the individual. I like to weigh myself before and after my long runs to check my consumption has been adequate.
  • Practice wearing your race day kit and make sure you have the right shoes for the terrain. There is nothing worse than having blisters from poor fitted shoes or clothes that rub; think of that over 33 miles! Weather can be unpredictable in Scotland so preparing for all seasons is vital, especially for a race in November. I’m wearing road shoes that have ran 300 miles; they still have adequate support and a better match than trail shoes for the terrain. Is inevitable that blisters and sweat sores will happen for most runners but try and minimise this happening early on by making sure you are wearing the right gear.
  • Have a picture of the elevation and course and split it into sections. On the wall in my study is a picture of the elevation, sectioned into 5 mile splits with an average speed for each split. It will allow me to visualise the route on the day and make it more manageable mentally. I always go to fast at the start of my races and by doing this it has helped me pace better and prevent burn out. If I don’t stick to plan A I have a plan B so I don’t get disheartened if I don’t achieve my goal.
  • Read The Chimp Paradox: Steve Peters. A more experienced ultra-runner told me to read this book when I told him I was doing my first ultra. I have read the book before and it helped me in the past with a very difficult time in my family life. It has helped again! When I have struggled on the long training runs and wanted to cut them short I was able to box my chimp (I named him Charles) and carry on; when I didn’t want to get up early to run and wanted to stay in bed, I boxed my chimp! There are some very useful methods of coping in this book for all walks of life.
  • Enjoy it!

The right amount of protein.

A regular conversation I have with clients is when is the right time to add protein shakes? Firstly, lets talk about the average daily protein need. For a healthy, sedentary adult their daily protein requirement is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight per day; this is approximately 10-15% of total calories consumed per day. There are a few training cases when protein requirements may change and possibly require supplements. However in many cases, additional protein can be sought through a balanced diet.

  1. ENDURANCE TRAINING – Long distance, endurance athletes running 60 minutes or more of moderately hard training may require additional protein to compensate the breakdown of muscle tissue due to depleted glycogen stores, a process known as gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the body’s way of maintaining blood glucose levels when muscle and liver glycogen have become depleted during exercise or at times when there is a low energy intake. Another reason for an increase in protein is to help repair and recovery of the muscles. After a long run I always have a pint of skimmed milk as its a fast and effective way of getting adequate protein into my body quickly. Daily protein requirements 1.2-1.4g per kg of body weight.
  2. STRENGTH TRAINING – When strength training you are creating micro tears in the muscle which requires increased amounts of protein to help repair and enhance recovery. Strength training requires more protein than endurance training due to the higher rate of muscle synthesis and increased demands placed on the muscles. In order to achieve effective muscle hypertrophy (muscle bulk) an increase in protein must be met with an appropriate workload. Some of the highest protein foods are chicken 39g/130g, salmon 30g/150g and beef 28g/100g. Daily protein requirements are 1.4-1.8g per kg of body weight
  3. FAT LOSS PROGRAMME – Clients of mine on a weight loss or weight management programme benefit from a slightly higher daily protein allowance of up to 20% of their total daily calorie intake. Proteins such as poultry, meat, meat produce, dairy products and nuts, seeds and pulses are high in protein which keeps you fuller for longer. When increasing protein in your diet it is important to accompany it with exercise to maximise the benefits. Some low fat examples are low fat yogurt, salmon, chicken, eggs and skimmed milk.
  4. VEGETARIAN ATHLETES – Many vegetarian clients of mine through a balanced diet will achieve 10-15% of their total calories through low fat dairy product and meat and fish alternatives such as tofu, nuts and seeds. Plant sources are generally lower in protein so it is essential to eat the right combination of plant-based proteins. It maybe relevant for a vegetarian to supplement their diet particularly when training for a marathon or strength training. Some good examples are quinoa, quorn, tofu, soya milk, eggs, kidney beans, chick peas and baked beans.

Many protein-based meal replacements are designed to have a wide range of nutritional combinations than a protein only supplement so it is important to understand why you are taking it and for what purpose. It is important to know the side effects of too much protein in the diet such as excess protein intake can be stored as fat, some animal products are high in saturated fat and therefor can increase cholesterol and increase the risk of Chronic Heart Disease and can be dangerous to individuals with kidney or liver disease.

If you have any questions related to protein intake why not get in touch!

Are we a nation who drink enough?

How much water is enough?

Although uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. Hyponatremis is a condition when too much water is consumed over a short period of time and the kidney does not have time to filter out the excess. This leaves the sodium concentration in the blood very low and symptoms can include headache, confusion, muscle spasms, nausea or in severe cases swelling in the brain cells.  Electrolytes can be used to replace lost sodium stores and there are plenty well-known brands on the market.

Not having enough fluid can be serious and the importance during exercise of replacing water cannot be over stated. At 3% dehydrated an athlete will have inefficient kidney function, dry mouth, headache and a measurable reduction in exercise performance; at 5% heat exhaustion will result and require medical assistance.

1 liter per 1000 kcal you expend = your daily water requirement

How to assess hydration levels?

It is important to drink before you feel thirsty. When you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated and performance will be affected. It takes time for water to be absorbed into your body and transported. A good indicator is the colour of urine:

Sports drinks are an excellent way of improving performance by improving hydration and glucose replacement. Isotonic drinks contain the same amount of glucose as the body and are absorbed by the gut quicker (4gramms/100ml).

One of my biggest inspirations in life is my Father.  A retired General Practitioner and fitness fanatic, he taught me years ago how to make my own isotonic drink with half fresh fruit juice, half water and a pinch of salt to encourage me to drink more.  It really does the trick and by far cheaper than the shop bought drinks. Give it a try after a hard session and see for yourself.