Tag Archives: energy

Daily Vitamin Shots – Performance Boosting or a Caffeine Kick?

Energy is big business…and I’m not just talking the kind that flows through power cables. The likes of Red Bull, Monster and Relentless are multi-million pound industries now, with us looking to get that instant ‘pick-me-up’ to get through the day. The next step in the energy drink market was efficiency. We don’t want to have to sit and drink a whole can of energy, we want it in one teeny tiny bottle.

Hence the birth of the ‘energy shot’. These have since gone on to appeal to an even wider marker, by claiming not only to give us enough of a buzz to want to run a marathon – twice- but to ALSO meet a plethora of nutritional needs in one 60ml swoop!

How demanding are we?!  

www.6vitaminshot.co.uk 6 vitamin shot, daily boost, caffeine, coffee, b vitamins, performance boostingA few weeks ago, I was sent 6 bottles of the new ‘6vitaminshot’…the latest brand to produce one of these energy shots, designed to provide the consumer with their ‘recommended vitamin allowance and more’. The shelves are now saturated with competing brands trying to get in on the action, but does this one stand out from the rest?

 What is it?

6vitaminshot is marketed as an energy boosting supplement and having never heard of the brand before, I was excited to give them a go! The ingredients are listed on the side of the bottle, and directions just tell me that for maximum effect I should drink between meals. The front of the bottle claims that is has 6 key benefits:

        – Sustained energy

               – No jitters

               – Mental clarity

              – Increased endurance

              – Enhanced performance

              – Sugar free

How does it taste?

Regardless of the content, the flavour of the shot itself is probably one of its most important features – it may well be able to work miracles, but if it tastes awful, no-one is going to want to drink it! The liquid is ‘Acai Berry’ flavour….not too thick and a pinkish colour; the smell reminded me of artificial sweet drinks from when I was a kid, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fruity flavour! It went down easily, but I did find chilling them in the fridge made them a bit more enjoyable.

But what’s actually in it?

www.6vitaminshot.co.uk 6 vitamin shot, daily boost, caffeine, coffee, b vitamins, performance boostingA fair old bit actually. A ton of ingredients are listed are listed on the packet, with details of the benefits of each on their website (reduced fatigue, antioxidants, athletic performance, metal alertness, a boost during exercise…the list goes on). ‘Sugar free’ is always a bonus, compared to many of the full sized cans of energy drink which are laced with the sweet stuff – though this does have artificial sweetener in it instead.

Taking a closer look at the vitamins contained themselves, the amount per serving is given alongside the % Daily Values recommended. The website says…

‘6vitaminshot contains ingredients which have proven benefits to enhance sporting performance whereas Berocca just contains low dose vitamins and minerals for more general use’

A quick look at the B vitamins shows that many of them are over the recommended allowance anyway (B12 is 8333% – necessary?) and are actually comparable in amount – if not less in some cases – to those in Berocca. The other ingredients further down the list are those that ‘enhance sporting performance’ (Betaine, Taurine, L-Tyrosine). Unfortunately I don’t know enough science behind these to pass accurate judgment, but there are studies available into the effects of them on performance and mood – many of which have proved to be positive. I did quick bit of research into recommended dosage for improved performance – Betaine is 2.5g daily, L-Carnitine is 3-4g daily, L-Tyrosine suggests 0.5-1g 3 times daily). The levels in 6vitamin shot are 0.5g, 0.3g and 0.5g respectively – these low amounts probably aren’t going to make much of a noticeable difference to performance in a single dose.

www.6vitaminshot.co.uk 6 vitamin shot, daily boost, caffeine, coffee, b vitamins, performance boostingOne of the most important features that caught my eye in the listed ingredients was caffeine. Each shot contains 120mg, which is the equivalent to 2 cups of instant coffee. Obviously depending on individual sensitivity, this is enough to perk anyone up! The FAQ section of their website explains the supplemental benefits of caffeine, but says that 300mg is regarded as the safe upper limit for daily, so make sure to factor in any other drinks you’re having that day.

How much will it set me back?

www.6vitaminshot.co.uk 6 vitamin shot, daily boost, caffeine, coffee, b vitamins, performance boostingI’ve not seen these for sale in shops yet, but you can buy directly from their website (www.6vitaminshot.co.uk) priced at £2.50 a bottle or a tray of 12 for £24.99 – if it’s the B vitamins you need, I’d say that you can get a cheap multivitamin tablet to do the same job.

Marketed as a daily supplement, this price is too high for me – while it’s pleasant enough to drink, this could soon add up if you’re drinking one everyday!

And do I feel on top of the world?

Vitamin-wise, I only had a small supply to try, and as I have a fairly healthy diet anyway I don’t think I’ll have been lacking in B-vitamins, so taking extra wouldn’t really make a difference. Sport-wise, it was good to have before the gym for the energy boost (which I definitely need at times!), however, I do think this may have been more from the caffeine and I didn’t notice any marked improvement in performance.

 

Calorie Counting – The Catch

A recent post of mine discussed the use of the great food tracking app, My Fitness Pal, to keep an eye on what you’re eating – particularly if you’re monitoring your calories day to day. Following on from this, I thought it was only responsible to write a sequel post, delving into the big bad world of those calories themselves.

The science is simple: energy in = energy out

calorie-energy-balance-scale

Energy in is made up of the food (and drink) we consume that fuels us in the form of calories. It is then expended through our physical movements – exercising, fidgeting, breathing and even sleeping. If more energy is burned than is consumed, you’ll lose weight; or if you ate a few too many eggs at Easter without hitting the gym quite enough, you’re probably going to find that your jeans are that bit tighter than they were before. People are quick to follow this logic when they’re looking to shed a few pounds for the summer – eat fewer calories to lose weight.

There are a huge number of calorie calculators online where you can enter your height, weight and activity level. They’ll then give you an estimate of the number of calories you should have each day in order to lose/maintain or gain weight. Once you have this, you can then start monitoring your daily intake.

Sounds like a flawless plan, no? Except there’s one teeny tiny catch….

Not all calories are equal.  

A quick science lesson here for you (and one that I’ve spent a lot of time researching myself lately). Your food is fundamentally formed of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are known as macronutrients.

Carbs = 4 calories per gram
Protein  = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram

When you hear people talking about a ‘balanced diet’, this means getting enough of each macronutrient in your daily food total to ensure that your body can function effectively; a good starting place for this is a rough 40:40:20 ratio. Unfortunately, the modern diet often leaves us with too much of one, and not enough of the other, leaving us tired, sluggish and often carrying a bit too much around the middle.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are what give us energy and can be found in all of my favourite foods…bread, pasta, rice, fruit….in fact almost everything contains some amount of carbs. These tend to make up the bulk of the average diet; however, this often means that your diet is lacking in the other key macros. We’ve all seen the ‘success’ of low/no carb diets like Atkins, but look at the percentage of your diet that is currently made up of carbs (up to 80% in some cases). If you suddenly cut this out, you’re leaving yourself with a huge calorie deficit – no wonder people drop weight fast! You’ll also find your metabolism will be wrecked.

Protein 1

Protein is what your body uses for muscle repair and growth. The average guidelines say your diet should consist of 0.7-1g protein per pound of bodyweight. Body builders will often include 1-2g per lb because of all the lean muscle they’re looking to build and maintain. Depending on your training schedule you may well need a higher amount of protein. If you’re hungry all the time, you should look at upping it as it’s what will keep you fuller for longer. A protein filled breakfast is more likely to see you through till lunchtime than a bowl of sugary cereal! A lack of sufficient protein also means that if you’re training, your body won’t be able to repair your muscles, and this is when you start to lose lean muscle.

Fat

Fats help your body to function, and contrary to popular belief it’s not all evil and should make up 20-35% of your daily calorie intake. There are still good and bad fats, and too little fat in your diet at all can lead to vitamin deficiencies, food cravings, cardiovascular problems and emotional issues. Obviously too much fat in your diet can lead to too much fat on your body, but make sure you hit the right amount. Some good fat sources include olive oil, eggs, nuts, fish and avocadoes.

When you’re purely tracking just calories, none of this comes into consideration. Say you’re on a 1600 calorie a day diet – you could live on a diet of cereal, pasta, chocolate, take out, fizzy drinks, but in smaller amounts. Technically each day you may well be within your calorie limit but there’ll be far less nutrition, and your body will suffer for it (struggle getting up? mid afternoon slump? Starving an hour after eating?). You definitely won’t be looking good either – ever heard of the term ‘skinny fat’? No lean muscle or definition, no bum, and a dangerous amount of fat lining the organs!

Macro counting has also been termed ‘flexible dieting’ – as it’s not as extreme as clean eating all the time (nothing processed, nothing refined etc etc) you can still factor in some of the treats you love, as long as they’re within your macro limit. This is a big deal for keeping your sanity in check! In theory this sounds like you could eat what you want ALL the time, but hitting your numbers while living on junk food is almost impossible. Trying to make as much of your diet healthy with as many micronutrients as possible (vitamins & minerals) will help you feel and look your best.

For the next few days I’m planning on tracking my macros– My Fitness Pal allows you to view your macro amount when you track your food, and it’s already proved interesting for me. I’ve calculated the daily calories I need and then worked out the macro split. My protein intake was definitely too low (I’m full all the time at the moment!) and it’s been an education on the composition of some of my favourite foods, especially some that people like to shout about as being ‘great sources of protein (yes…but how much fat is there too?). It’s a fine art…the ratios that work for some people may not work for others, but it’s about playing around with what works best for you.

The maths works – if you’re hitting your macro target each day, you will automatically be at your correct calorie limit, and you’ll know the breakdown of what you have will be what your body needs! It’s about eating smart, not less. Quality, not quantity.

 

 

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of Your Day

My last post was about how important your sleep is – hope you’ve all slept a little better after reading it.  This articles is going to focus on one of the first things we do after we wake up in the morning – breakfast.

Breakfast 1All my life I’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and studies show that there is growing evidence that this is true. Unfortunately, when I was little my mother never had time to make breakfast for me so often my breakfast consisted of 4 home made donuts filled with huge amounts of jam and washed down with a glass of milk  – I must admit it was bliss.

Now I know what you’re thinking – gosh, that sounds very unhealthy.  Well… it might have been but I loved it. These food memories come from one of the best times of my life – donuts, 2 school dinners in the canteen and sports all afternoon – both during school and after.  This was my thing.

Throughout my life, I’ve never had a regular time set aside to eat breakfast or had something in particular that I’ve always eaten for breakfast.  My eating habits have generally varied depending on the type of job I’ve been doing, the weather and my appetite. Sometimes I found that that if I ate a heavy breakfast I would feel sluggish all day.

Increasingly, I’ve found that it’s crucial that I make time for a breakfast that consists of high energy, slow release foods and that it’s tailored to the day I will be having.  There are also some high protein, big staying power breakfasts out there that have been designed for those of you, like me, who are leading crazy, fast paced lives, always on the go.

Many of us grab breakfast on the run – a pot of porridge for the chain coffee shop near work, or get a pancake as we pass our favorite bakery or have got used to team breakfasts at work.  There’s nothing wrong with getting breakfast on the move but it’s important to make smart choices so that we are set up for the rest of the day.

These are my top five breakfasts for every occasion:

  •   1.   The Lazy Bliss: a home made Ulster fry: 2 steak sausages, 1 potato bread, 1 pancake, 2 fried eggs, fried scallions with vine small tomatoes and chili and jalapeno relish – the perfect weekend brekkie
  •   2.   The Early Riser: a pot of muesli filled with fresh fruit, drowned in hot milk and honey – something to put a spring back in your step during the early hours
  •   3. Sweet Memories: toasted pancakes with cheese and jam accompanied by glass of cold milk – a comforting breakfast
  •   4. The Energy Booster: a fruit smoothie made with special polish yoghurt (kefir or maslanka) or natural Greek yoghurt, fresh fruits (bananas, blue berries, black berries, straw berries, etc.) – this is a breakfast to help those little grey cells kick into action – to make it sweeter you can add small spoon of sugar or honey
  •   5. A Scrambled Adventure: as the name suggests, the main part of this breakfast is scrambled eggs but with a twist – I make them either with some of the following: fresh cream and onions; fresh tomatoes; polish ham, sausage, peppers, scallions and parsley; parmesan cheese, peppers, pumpkin seeds and onion.

Hungry?  I know I am! Remember, the most important thing is to be happy and to see a healthy breakfast as an essential part of your daily eating schedule.

 

The Secret to Happiness

“If you can think about what you want in your mind, and make that your dominant thought, you will bring it into your life”.  “The Secret”

The Secret

Many of us chase a dream of happiness and at the same time try to counter negative things that might impinge on us achieving it.  We do this by working hard, planning ahead and tackling any obstacles in our way.  We do these things not only for ourselves and our own happiness but also for the happiness of others – the ones we love and care for.

What if I told you that the true path to achieving happiness starts from within; that we are balls of pure energy capable of creating our own miracles…

“Create your day in advance by thinking the way you want it to go, and you will create your life intentionally”. The Secret

Two years ago I heard about a book called “The Secret”, written by Rhonda Byrne.  I’d spoken to several people who had read the book and seen the movie upon which it was basedThe principle that the film and book are founded upon is that the universe is governed by a natural law – the law of attraction.  It states that we attract life experiences, situations, events, and people that “match the frequency” of our  thoughts and feelings. As such, it suggests that positive thinking and feeling positive can create life-changing results.

Gratitude bookI decided to buy The Secret Gratitude Book, designed to help you live the principles of The Secret and live the life of your dreams.  In this book I write what I am grateful for and what my dreams are. The trick is to visualize your dream and feel that you are already there! You need to change “I wish” into “I am grateful for” or “I am thankful for” or “I feel so happy being able to” and so on.

I have had the book for few months now.  However, due to the recent events, I had totally left aside thinking about myself – I lost focus on what I dream of. Instead, I have been caught up in events that have distracted me.  Thankfully my dreams are embedded in my head and heart allowing me to now reconnect and create a mental picture in my subconscious, keeping the universe alert about what I truly want.   However, you must remember to not only focus on “what you want” but also to NOT focus on “what you don’t want”.

“All stress begins with one negative thought.  Just the simple process of letting go of negative thoughts will allow your natural state of health to emerge within you”.

Whatever your dreams for happiness, I think that if we believe in them and ourselves the universe will do the rest.