If you regularly go to the gym or are serious about your training, chances are you've heard of BCAAs. We answer all your questions about BCAAs so you can decide if they're right for you.
What is BCAA and what does it do?
BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acid and is a compound found in protein. All protein is made up on amino acids and there are essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids are named as such because the human body cannot make them, so we need to get them from food. The 9 essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
There are 11 non-essential amino acids, which are amino acids that the human body can make itself. There are 11 non-essential amino acids: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, a substance that plays a crucial role in many biological processes and functions. We need protein to build and repair muscle, and if you workout hard and often get DOMS, protein is what will help you recover and stop feeling so achy.
Related: Can You Exercise When You Are Sore
Is BCAA good for weight loss?
Taking a BCAA supplement won't facilitate weight loss specifically. The only healthy way to achieve weight loss is to eat in a calorie deficit, meaning you are eating fewer calories than you are burning in a day. What BCAAs do is help your body recover quicker and better after tough workouts, as they supplement your amino acid intake which are building blocks of protein.
If you eat a rich and varied diet, you may well not need to take BCAA supplements because you will be getting all the essential amino acids from food. However, if you eat quite a restrictive diet and do a lot of weight/strength training, you may find that a BCAA supplement can help you take on all 20 amino acids, both essential and non-essential.
Do I take BCAA before or after a workout?
You can consume a BCAA supplement either 30-45 minutes before a workout or immediately afterwards. It's ideal to take on a hit of protein within 30 minutes of finishing a strength workout so that your body can absorb the protein and use it to help build and repair your muscles.
If you're trying to lose weight or are training for a race or fitness event next year, Christmas can feel like a daunting time. Lots of indulgent food around the house, meals and drinks out with family and friends, and less time to train can all add up. We're here with our 5 top tips to help you stay on track and avoid over-indulging this festive season.
1. Tell your family and friends about your goals
One of the things that makes it so difficult to stick to being healthy at this time of year is pressure from family, friends, and social occasions. If everyone is eating, drinking and being merry, you don't want to be the party-pooper with your salad in a Tupperware container.
Make sure you tell your family and friends about your intentions and your goals so that they can support you. They'll be more understanding and hopefully won't try to pressure you into eating more unhealthy food if you're open with them about what you're trying to achieve.
2. Make sure there's healthy food in the house
It can be all too tempting to eat cake for breakfast and graze on biscuits and sweets throughout the day if they are littering the house and there aren't any healthy options.
Make sure you've still got normal, healthy food in your house so that you can eat proper meals and then enjoy the occasional treat as well. Trying to stick to a normal eating routine will be key to success and not falling into a food coma after lunch.
3. Plan your meals ahead of time
Another reason why it's very tempting to eat the unhealthy food in the house is because it's quick and easily accessible. If you're stuck deciding what to have for dinner, chances are your family's suggestion of getting a takeaway will sound very appealing.
Make sure you plan your meals for the week ahead of time so that you know exactly what you're going to have and can make sure you have all the ingredients you need. There are plenty of healthy recipes that can be made quickly such as stir fry, grilled chicken, or wraps.
4. Stick to a training plan
Find a professionally-written training plan that fits around your schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible. Instead of making it up as you go and training ad-hoc, sticking to a proper training plan will make sure your training makes sense and that you don't over- or under-train.
However, it's also important to make sure your plans are flexible. If a friend invites you out but you have a long run planned for that day, try to compromise and arrange with your friend for another day. Referring back to point number 1, if you've already told your family and friends about your goals, they should understand and support you.
5. Don't be overly restrictive
It's almost impossible to sit at a table with a salad while everyone else eats delicious festive food. Allow yourself to have fun and enjoy yourself as that is the spirit of the season. If you've eaten a wholesome breakfast and healthy lunch, eating something a little less nutritious but a whole lot more tasty at dinner time shouldn't be too much of a problem. It's only when you're eating unhealthy snacks all day long as well as huge carb-rich meals that things go wrong this time of year.
Most of us will feel stressed at one time or another, but in these modern times more and more of us are suffering from stress chronically. It's not only bad for you mentally, it's bad for your physical health too. Sundried take a look at 4 easy ways to manage stress on a daily basis in order to protect your health.
1. Go hiking outdoors
Fresh air will boost your immune system and energise you with fresh oxygen. Getting a healthy dose of fresh air each day will help to combat stress and alleviate the related symptoms. People who work in office jobs tend to be chained to their desks and it can be a struggle to get any fresh air or even daylight from day to day, especially in winter. Going for a hike outdoors is a great form of exercise and can be great fun too. Not only is it good for your physical health, you'll end up finding new places and exploring parts of your local area you never even knew existing, boosting your mental health and well being too.
2. Go for a long run
Sometimes stress follows us home from work. Perhaps your stress is stemming from family or home life and you just need to get away. It's not practical to get up and run away, but going for a long solo run is the next best thing. The exercise will give you an endorphin boost and help to melt away your stress, which can harm your health if you suffer from it long term. It can also help you to manage your thoughts and process everything that's going on in your life at any given time. It'll give you time away to be alone with your thoughts and allow you to make plans and come up with ideas that you might not be able to otherwise.
3. Practice yoga
It's no secret that practising yoga and meditating is great for battling stress. It has even been found that certain types of yoga can ease the suffering of cancer patients. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to meditate and relax will do you a world of good and can be an ocean of calm in an otherwise hectic day. If you're not sure what to wear to yoga, Sundried have a handy guide you can follow. However, you don't need to go to a specific class in order to practice yoga; you can find a quiet space at home and listen to a guided meditation.
4. Make exercise fun
If your workout or training session is something you can look forward to each day, you will be more likely to stick to your training plan and not skip sessions. Having a fun and enjoyable training session planned for after work will mean you have a goal for the end of the day and something to look forward to. It may help the day go quicker and will keep your spirits high throughout the day. Participating in a group fitness class at your local gym can be a great way of meeting new people, making friends, and relieving stress at the end of a busy day. This is your time with no distractions and no one asking anything of you.
10,000 is the magic number for anyone with a fitness tracker, but why 10,000? What's the trick to this magical digit? With more and more people tracking their every move with fitness trackers, what can 10,000 steps really do?
History of 10,000 Steps
The recommended 10,000 steps that we see so regularly on our wrists today actually ventured over from Japan. In the 1960s, Japanese Doctor Yoshiro Hatano was concerned about the rising levels of obesity in the Japanese people and so began to research the activity of the people of his culture. The doctor and his team found that the average person walked 3,000 - 5,000 steps a day. His research found that in order to burn just 20% of their daily calorie intake, most people would need to walk at least 10,000 steps a day.
Dr Hatano then created a pedometer called the “Manpo-Kei” which translates as "10,000 steps meter".
The watch's motivation and simplicity made it become very popular in Japan and it remains popular to this day, so much so that the Japanese government have provided an accuracy measure of 3% which all pedometers must reach. of 3% accuracy for all pedometers sold in their country.
Fast forward to today and the 10,000 steps per day campaign is being backed by huge federations such as the NHS, World Health Organisation, American Heart Association and the US Centers for Disease Control.
Research supporting 10,000 Steps
Today, research has proven that tracking your steps can increase your daily activity and help to improve health. Research published in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine trialled the use of Fitbit as a physical fitness intervention in inactive, postmenopausal women. After 16 weeks of monitoring their activity with a Fitbit, those who wore a Fitbit were significantly more active than the control group.
A study by The American Stroke Association found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for at least an hour or two could cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how brisk the pace was. Taking a three-hour walk each day slashed the risk of stroke by two-thirds.
How far is 10,000 steps?
The average person has a stride length of 2.1 ft, or around 60cm, meaning it takes around 2,000 steps to walk a mile, so 10,000 steps to walk about 5 miles. A brisk 10 minute walk? 1,000 steps. The average inactive person walks anywhere between 3,000 to 7,000 steps a day, so for most reaching 10,000 steps would involve adding a 30-60 minute walk to their daily routine.
How many calories will I burn if I walk 10,000 steps a day?
A person aged 45 and weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn around 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly. If you're trying to lose weight, walking is very low impact and the real difference will come from your nutrition, but adding a walk into your daily routine will definitely help.
10,000 steps helps reverse the dangers of sitting
Part of the 10,000 steps charm is that it gets you up and out of your chair, as sitting for too long has been found to increase your risk of death from multiple health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Research has shown that sitting for more than 8 hours a day is associated with a 90% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Aiming to reach 10,000 steps simply just by getting up and moving more can reduce your risk of these health issues.
Research also studied the effect of lunchtime walks on the effectiveness of employees at work and found that lunchtime walks improved enthusiasm, relaxation, and nervousness at work.
Walking was also found to improve quality of life for depressed middle-aged women. Those who averaged at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise or just over 3.25 hours of walking each week reported feeling more energised and more social at their three-year follow ups.
“Celebrate being overweight? Have I read that right?”
Yes, indeed you have. It is not every day when you can celebrate being overweight. In fact, you may not think it is ever appropriate. But you would if, like 61.7% of adults in the UK, you started with a BMI classified as obese.
Recruit X was part of that statistic. On November 15th 2015 he had a dangerously high visceral fat level of 14. That level of fat around your organs can cause a multitude of health complications, from diabetes to liver dysfunction. Recruit X also weighed 106.8 kg, classing his BMI as obese.
Recruit X decided it was time to make a change. With the help of Sundried and a dedicated attitude towards his new fitness regime, in just over 4 weeks, we are celebrating. Recruit X moved out of the obese BMI bracket to the overweight bracket.
That’s not to say it was an easy journey. Credit where credit's due, when we started just over 4 weeks ago, Recruit X found it a struggle to run 2km. He suffered from very laboured breathing and had to slow down continuously, but he did not give up. A challenge was set 1 month from starting off the Cliff Lift Steps in Southend. (If you are in Southend the Cliff Lift Steps is a great challenge). 10 Flights until freedom, it’s a tough route to climb; we knew an increase in effort was required. Recruit X gave it all he’d got
So just after 4 weeks, Recruit X had lost 10kg, moved down an entire BMI bracket, knocked his visceral fat from 14 to 11, and started to find his training easier. Everything is looking up (or down depending on how you look at it!).
Unfortunately we have chucked Christmas into the mix and the next run will determine how many steps backwards we are looking at, but we like a challenge!