Snack Hack # 19 – The Recovery Bowl

Welcome to a long overdue return to the Snack Hack series. These posts aim to bring simple and doable options that can be used to optimise your life.

Today’s little bite sized morsel is the post training recovery bowl. This is has got all you need to replenish following either a hard session in the weights room, on the road or on the mats.

Let’s see what we got on the recipe list and break down the what and why:

– Half a cup of berries blue/goji/raisins. Ok, so I’m not a huge huge fan of raisins due to the vegetable oils often used to process them. However, dried fruit can be a great to replenish your glycogen stores quickly if you’re, for example, working out again later that day. Berries in general though, and especially blue berries, are well vaunted for their high antioxidant count, helping to clear some of the free radical damage caused from exercise.

– 2 tbsp shredded coconut. Coconut is a source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) . MCTs are a fat that the body digests quickly and sends to the liver to use as an energy source.

– A quarter cup of Macadamia nuts. The macadamia can be simply put as the king of nuts. They have the most favourable omega 3:6 ratio. Omega 3 is an essential for brain health and helping to reduce systemic inflammation.

– 2 tbsp chia seeds. Chia seeds are also a source of Omega 3 as well as gelatinous fibre. Gelatinous fibre helps process out toxins from the body through coating them and guiding them out the body. Gelatinous fibres are also reported to help normalise blood glucose and insulin levels.

– 3/4 cup kefir. Kefir is a fermented dairy product (read more here: https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/08/28/snack-hack-10-kefir/). Fermented foods are commonly known for their gut healing properties. They provide a source of probiotics, strains of ‘friendly’ bacteria to support everything from immune function to mental health. Kefir is also a protein source so will aid with muscle recovery.

– Dash of Ceylon cinnamon. So this is primarily added for taste so if you don’t have Ceylon then standard Cassia cinnamon is fine. However, Ceylon is a pretty powerful healer and definitely more than a worthy replacement for sweeteners. Read this previous post if you’d like to find out a little more and why your standard shop bought cinnamon may be a worrying alternative; https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/11/16/snack-hack-13-ceylon-cinnamon/

Alrighty, well there’s no great method here, just chuck it all in a bowel and give it a good stir. Hope you enjoyed the post, please give it a like, a comment and share! Till next time.

How to Review your Goals – 2 minute read

Right, so this is maybe a few days late but I wanted to present a format from which you can review the year. These questions are taken from the great Ryan Munsey’s book; F**k Your Feelings, which is an absolute game changer in my opinion.

Although new year is always a pretty fitting time to review and set goals, these questions can be used at anytime to make positive changes.

Take some time to thoroughly and meaningfully go through the below list. Reflect and try and be as honest as you can..

– what results are you happy with?

– what results are you not happy with?

– what results would you like to be getting?

– what changes can you make in your time to get more of the results you desire?

– how are you holding yourself back?

– what would you do if you new you could not fail?

– what is the fear?

– what ruts are you in because of preference for comfort?

– how is comfort crushing my drive / motivation?

– where can you seek discomfort?

Ok, hopefully this has helped and can be a point of reference for future planning. On closing I’ll just leave this pretty potent statement that Ryan refers back to in his book on a number of occasions:

“Your life is perfectly designed for the results you’re currently getting”

Till next time.

Macadamias – The King Nut

Welcome back people to the What Supp Blog. Your one stop shop for everything optimisation. So today’s topic is a personal fave on the snack front, the old macadamia nut. Aside from being pretty damn tasty, it’s also a keto supremeo and healthy on many a level.

Macadamia is a genus of four species of trees indigenous to Australia, and constituting part of the plant family Proteaceae. Although native to Oz, you’ll also find them in tropical climates with volcanic soil such as , Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand and South Africa.

Nutritional Profile

The humble macadamia nut actually turns out to be quite the nutrient filled powerhouse. Check the below stats:

Amount Per 100 grams

Calories 718

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 76 g 116%

Saturated fat 12 g 60%

Polyunsaturated fat 1.5 g

Monounsaturated fat 59 g

Cholesterol 0 mg 0%

Sodium 5 mg 0%

Potassium 368 mg 10%

Total Carbohydrate 14 g 4%

Dietary fiber 9 g 36%

Sugar 4.6 g

Protein 8 g 16%

Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 2%

Calcium 8% Iron 20%

Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 15%

Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 32%

*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Macadamia nuts have a super healthy content. They contain fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals with significant health-boosting potential.

As well as those noted in the above table, macadamia nuts are also a source of vitamin A, iron, vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). They contain small amounts of selenium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. So just a 1-ounce serving nets 58% of what you need in manganese and 22% of the recommended daily value of thiamine.

As can be seen, the micro nutrient content of macadamias is pretty good. Macadamia nuts are good sources of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. As well as being important electrolytes, these three minerals help prevent bone demineralisation whilst the phosphorus in the nuts promotes mineralisation of teeth.

Macadamia nuts also play an important role in your gut health. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, which flush toxins out of the body and also aid digestion. The nuts are particularly rich in copper that supports the enzymatic reactions that improve digestive health.

Macros

Macadamias are relatively low in carbs and protein, containing 7.9 g protein, 8.6 g fiber, 13.8 g carbohydrate, and 75.8 g lipids per 100 grams. Regarding their protein content, macadamias have all of the essential amino acids. Glutamic acid, aspartic acid, arginine, phenylalanine, and leucine are the ones present in the highest concentrations however.

Macadamias are also a good source of carbohydrates like sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, and some starch-based carbohydrates.

Macadamia nuts are without doubt little fat bombs with their own unique nutritional profile. The high fat content of macadamias might be a tad off putting for some. However, between 78-86% of the fat is ‘healthy fat’. Macadamias are high in oleic acid and omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid, the same fatty acid found in olive oil. In fact, of the 21 grams of fat found in macadamia nuts, only 3 grams are saturated fat.

The macadamia nut is in fact one of the only food sources that contain palmitoleic acid, a type of omega-7 monounsaturated fatty acid that may speed up fat metabolism, thus reducing the body’s ability to store fat.

Monounsaturated fat can help lower cholesterol and decreases your risk of heart disease and stroke by making platelets less sticky and less likely to form clots in blood vessels. In addition to helping your body reduce cholesterol though, macadamias themselves are 100 % cholesterol free.

Brain Health

Macadamia nuts could have a significant role in the health of inside your swede. The oleic fatty acid helps keep the blood pressure low and prevents stroke, thereby preserving brain health. Another acid in the nuts is palmitoleic acid, which also is an important component of myelin (myelin is a fatty layer that protects nerve cells in the brain).

A few other nutrients in macadamia nuts; copper, vitamin B1, manganese, and magnesium, all aid the production of healthy neurotransmitters. Whilst omega-9, showing it’s not to be outdone, helps improve mood. The fatty acid can even enhance memory and prevent several neurological diseases. One study talks about the importance of omega-9 in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Flavonoids

Another health benefit of macadamia nuts comes from their flavanoids (the same compounds that give red wine its healthful claim to fame). These flavanoids help lower blood pressure and protect against some forms of cancer.

Flavanoids are compounds naturally found in plants. They help repair damaged plant cells and protect the plant from environmental toxins. When we eat these plants, our bodies turn the flavanoids into antioxidants. Antioxidants mop up free radicals; destructive particles in the body that are formed from normal and essential metabolic processes, or from external sources such as exposure to environmental toxins.

Oil

Due to its high content of monounsaturated fat, macadamia nut oil is fast becoming a favourite addition for cooking oil choices. In addition, macadamia nut oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means that it can be cooked at higher temperatures without breaking down and losing its flavour.

Aside from its stability to cook with, there are other health promoting reasons to choose macadamia nut oil. The monounsaturated fat content of macadamia nuts can help relieve inflammation, the root cause for many health issues including coronary heart disease. One study however has discussed the efficacy of macadamia nut oil specifically in treating inflammation.

This isn’t all that macadamia nut oil is good for. The essential fatty acids in macadamia nut oil play a role in skin health. The palmitoleic acid in the nuts is another essential fatty acid that hydrates the skin, promotes skin healing, and supports the health of cell membranes, delaying the ageing process.

Lastly, it’s not to bad for your noggin either. Massaging your hair regularly with macadamia nut oil makes it shine, stimulates hair growth, and rebuilds hair elasticity.

Right, well hopefully you are sold on the macadamia nut! They are a perfect addition to not just low carb or keto diets but also any eating plan at all. Please like and comment, till next time.

What the experts say – the 2 minute read – Food Choices to Make You Healthier

Welcome back to the ‘what the experts say’ series. These short two minute reads bring you two, three or four easy to implement tips via some of the leading lights in the health and wellness space.

Ok ok, I get it, another ‘healthy foods’ post. Maybe I should just post up a picture of broccoli and a kale chip and be done with it. Well, this one be a tad different, I swear.

Today’s tips are a couple of little known choices to improve health, longevity and even, managing a hangover! So hold onto your hats for a mighty informative two minute read of what the experts say

Right, so first hot tip is bought via the primal movement founder, Mr Mark Sisson. This tip is particularly good for those following a low carbohydrate or paleo/primal style eating plan.

Resistant starches are a good form of prebiotic, feeding the healthy microbes in our gut that aid digestion, immune function and even mental health. Raw potato starch & green bananas are both good sources for resistant starch.

Another good form of resistant starch is cooled white rice and cooled white potatoes. They are good also as the molecular structure of the carbohydrates they contain becomes indigestible as they cool and forms as the resistant starch.

To double the potency of these forms, try reheating & re-cooling for the potatoes. Be warned though, don’t heat starch or green bananas, as this will make the starches become digestible carbohydrates, and as such, spike your insulin.

Next tip is via Greg Potter, a researcher and guest of the biohacker podcast. To aid with weight loss, try to increase your brown fact activation. Aside from cold showers, look to get spicy. The Capsaicin in red pepper is the perfect enabler to activate that there brown fat.

Number three tip. This ones bought via the clever minds at Caveman Coffee. We’ve all heard of the health properties that are now being linked to coffee, but, there seems to be a trade off. When choosing, look for a lighter roast coffee for being higher in caffeine but a darker roast for having a higher antioxidant count.

Lastly, but by no means least.. (and of course as promised!) Onnit head honcho Aubrey Marcus recommends a green tea for a hangover. The l theanine content of green tea mimics the neurotransmitter GABA, which boosts mood and can have a calming, relaxing effect.

Alcohol consumption produces more GABA, which results in the brain over producing the neurotransmitter glutamate to compensate come the morning once your GABA stores are depleted. This over production of glutamate can lead to headaches, feeling grouchy and not at your finest.

Alright, so hope you enjoyed this post and learned a little something. Till next time!

The Vitamin Breakdown! – Vitamin B8

Well, this one has been a long time coming, welcome back to the vitamin break down series! It’s been a while since I’ve updated this series. These posts seek to explore the different vitamins, look why you need them and tell you where to get them.

So, today’s breakdown is a tad controversial, (in a very none controversial way), as we’ll be looking at vitamin B8. As it stands, B8 isn’t really known or considered as a true vitamin anymore. It is the former designation given to several distinct chemical compounds: Adenosine Monophosphate (AMP) and Inositol. Inositol however is how I’ve seen it referred to in the majority of the research I completed for this post.

Inositol is a type of sugar. Inositol can be found in many forms (called isomers). The most common forms are myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol.While you likely need some inositol every day to maintain your health, its functions in your body are not as thoroughly investigated as those of other vitamins.

Inositol is found in many plants and animals. It is also produced in the human body and can be made in a laboratory. It is made inside the body by intestinal bacteria. Our body can make its own inositol from glucose with the help of intestinal bacteria. Hence, external sources are of help only in conditions when the body is incapable of making its own vitamin.

Such as it’s B vitamin brethren, it’s a water soluble vitamin. As it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is not stored from external sources in the body and excess ingested amounts of it are flushed out with urine.

Although B8 is required in very small amounts by the body, it’s important to ensure it’s still obtained daily through the diet. Don’t get too anxious though, followed by vitamin B3 (niacin), our body has the second highest store of inositol, likely owed to the fact it can produce it so easily.

Cellular Communication

One major function of B8 is aiding in cell communication. Cells interact with each other via chemical signals – one cell releases a signalling molecule, such as a hormone, and then another cell receives and interprets that chemical message. Inositol helps your cells to interpret the chemical messages they receive so they can react accordingly, for example, helping your cells divide when they receive chemical signals telling them to grow. Defects in inositol signalling cause a breakdown in cell communication, and these defects are linked to diseases such as cancer.

Metabolism

Vitamin B8 has many other important functions to its credit. It is required for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins for the production of glucose. It is involved in the uptake and utilisation of glucose by the cells hence converting it to energy.

Not only does inositol, as a form of glucose, enhance the performance of cells as part of the membrane that surrounds all cells, it also helps in the processing of fat in our liver while keeping our muscles and nerves working properly.

B8 also acts as a mild lipotropic agent in the body meaning it can help to accelerate the breakdown of fat during metabolism. This has been seen in particular in overweight and obese individuals.

Immune & Nervous Systems

Inositol is required for maintaining a healthy immune system, thereby protecting the body against infection. Various research and clinical trials have suggested that inositol is necessary for the normal growth and survival of the human body. B8 keeps blood pressure in check, through its promotion of effective blood flow via the arteries.

Inositol is very important for the appropriate functioning of the nervous system.Its supplementation provides relief to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. It plays an active role in maintaining the healthy functioning of the nervous system in diabetic individuals. This can be seen by how it provides relief to diabetic nephropathy patients suffering from pain and numbness in the hands and legs.

Mental Health & Hormones

Vitamin B8 might also help maintain your mental health whilst improving cognition. Brain cells have inositol in their cell membranes, and getting enough inositol helps your nerves respond properly to neurotransmitters, the chemicals your brain cells use for communication. It might also help the hormone insulin to work better, which goes back to B8’s supporting role in metabolism.

B8 has also shown potential for treating a host psychological disorders. What makes it effective in treating psychological conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, and a number of other conditions, is its ability to influence how much serotonin is available to be supplied to nerves in the brain. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support insostol’s uses for these conditions

Gynaecological

Vitamin B8 seems to help reduce the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, a hormonal disorder that causes weight gain, irregular periods, infertility and diabetes.

It is also taken to prevent complications during pregnancy such as neural tube birth defects (birth defects that involve the brain and spinal cord) and for preventing the side effects of a drug called lithium.

B8 might also help relieve severe pre-menstrual syndrome, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Taking inositol under a doctor’s orders might also help treat metabolic syndrome linked to the syndrome as it lowers the high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Food Sources of Vitamin B8

Deficiency of vitamin B8 is unlikely. However, a word of caution for coffee lovers, excessive coffee can deplete the vitamin stores.

B8 is found in several healthy foods. Sources of vitamin B8 consist of the following:

▪ nuts

▪ whole grains

▪ egg yolk

▪ legumes

▪ banana

▪ yeast

▪ mushroom

▪ sardines

▪ cauliflower

▪ swiss chard

Other sources include the following:

▪ lecithin

▪ liver

▪ wheat germ

▪ raisins

▪ peanuts

▪ cabbage

▪ all citrus fruits except lemons

▪ cantaloupe

▪ lima beans

Alrighty, hope that this post has given you a little insight into another vitamin on the vitamin alphabet, even if this one is hanging around on the vitamin status peripheries. Please like, share and comment if this was of any help whatsoever! Till next time.

Dr Mike T. Nelson’s Carbohydrate Cycling & Exercise Plan for Health, Fitness & Wellbeing

Alrighty, welcome back to the What Supp Blog. As standard, prepare yourself for some information gold nuggets to help supercharge your overall performance.

Today’s post is bought via the wisdom of Dr Mike T Nelson. Dr Mike has a PhD in Exercise Physiology, a BA in Natural Science, and an MS in Biomechanics. He’s an adjunct professor and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Dr Mike presented a pretty good looking program on a recent podcast. This program is a basic template to look at how you can amp up your fitness, body composition and general health goals. He discussed how results can be achieved by having an exercise routine that cycles carbohydrates in and out the diet alongside fasting.

The nutrition component, where we’ll discuss carb cycling, is in order to promote the much heralded ‘metabolic flexibility’. This essentially means promoting your body’s ability to access both fat and glucose for fuel. Carb restriction can also promote ketone production, both an energy source and serious neuro protector. Lastly we have the fasting element, great for everything from weight loss to gut health, to cellular functioning.

So, the programme. For three days a week, let’s purpose Monday/Wednesday/Friday, you will lift heavy weights, (check part 3 of my strength post for some unique body weight exercises and the MSP heavyweight protocol: https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/12/27/strength-training-why-what-and-what-next-to-achieve-your-goals-part-3/ )

On these 3 days you ensure you eat up to 200 grams of carbohydrates. Although Mike wasn’t specific on timing to best ingest your carbs, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest these are predominantly back loaded post exercise with a small amount included in your first meal of the day. If you miss a workout though or aren’t working at intensity, drop the number of carbs accordingly.

200g is the amount of carbohydrates Mike calculates is needed for an average athletic build male with some muscle, although maybe less are required, especially for women. This can be better calculated by the individual, starting at 200g and playing up or down depending on individual size and your body composition goals, (ie go down for greater weight loss/up for maintaining a higher muscle mass).

Next we have a little look at those in-between days Tuesday and Thursday. On these two days look to complete low intensity cardio. This should ideally be done in a fasted state first thing in the morning for the absolute best results. Again, going out on a limb. I’d suggest nose breathing jogging, cycling, swimming or other low impact exercise.

The carb total on these days should be 100 to 120 grams on each day. This is below metabolic no mans land, which is not enough to fuel you with glucose but too much for any ketone production. Once fat adapted, this should be enough to support the production of ketones in fitter individuals.

Protein consumption should be around 0.7 g per pound of body weight on any day, (excess protein does not equate to excess muscle building).

Fat consumption should be at 50/70g per day although Nelson notes the athlete should start at the lower end (around 50g) and add to it. I’d suggest the best indicators would be if body composition or being satiated and energy levels on lower carb days, are effected negatively.

If considering upping the fat quantity in the plan, ask what food would be added if you could add anything, is it fat or carb based? Now adjust the ratios accordingly. This can result in better compliance.

On the days where you are not training hard, fasting should be implemented. 12 – 14 hour overnight fasts should be undertaken depending on when they got done training or ate your last meal. Again, adjust accordingly to fit your lifestyle. Once you are comfortable with the fasting protocol, start to lengthen out the fasts. Mike highlights you could even work up to the Tuesday/ Thursday being fully fasted days or up to 19 to 24 hours.

I hope this has given you some idea how to implement an exercise programme which includes a weight management system, metabolic flexibility and the much heralded benefits of fasting. Should you have any questions, please drop me a comment! Till next time.

Ben Greenfield’s Recipe for Cooking the Perfect Steak

Alrighty, got a a bit of a different one for you today. Ben Greenfield is a pretty smart cookie. He’s released a number of books around triathlon training, low carb training and even how to raise tiny superhumans. He has an awesome podcast with many a biohack and is consistently at the cutting edge of wholistic human optimisation.

This short post will give you Ben’s recipe for how to cook the perfect steak that he gave on Joe Rogan’s JRE podcast. And actually, it’s a pretty damn good one. So below I’ll break it down step by step..

1. Remove steak from fridge/freezer. Allow it to reach room temperature for about 45/60 minutes.

2. During this time, pre coat the steak by rubbing in a liberal amount of a decent sea salt. Then add cayenne pepper, if using pepper corns, roast them first. Lastly add rosemary, again liberally. Rosemary is best for steak’s flavour but is also reduces the cargonagins that are caused from cooked charred meat. If no rosemary available, you can use thyme, (also anti carcinogenic). Coat and press both sides.

3. Pre heat cast iron skillet in the oven for 5/10 minutes. Once heated to touch, take the skillet out and put on a medium to high heat on the hob. Coat pan with a very good extra virgin olive oil (try a bold flavour choice) for a maximum 2 minutes.

4. The skillet needs to be heated enough so the steak will sizzle when it hits. This allows it to crust on outside but not cook to much on inside. Cook for 3.5 minutes on each side for medium rare.

5. Place your oven on broiler heat (or the grill for everyone else not in the US). Now place the cast iron skillet in oven under broiler/grill and allow the steak to cook 1 minuet each side.

6. Take out the skillet from the oven and remove steak. Put a generous slab of grass fed butter in skillet and let it become liquid but don’t let it burn.

7. Place steak back in skillet with melted butter and cook for 1 more minute each side under grill and remove. Poor juices and melted butter over when serving and enjoy!

Sleep – Why & How to Maximise it

Welcome back. As always, the What Supp Blog is here to bring the science, tips, tricks and hacks to get body, mind and spirit optimised!

Sleep. We all do it. Some love it, some struggle with it, most feel they could probably do with more and some just don’t feel it’s needed. This post will beg to differ that view, offer some expert views and suggest a couple of moves that could be made to improve it.

Health

So, is it that important? Hell to the damn yeah it is. Sleep guru Mathew Walker, whose done a pretty awesome podcast on the Joe Rogan Experience, highlights that lack of sleep correlates with all cause mortality. In fact the very act of being awake is causing low level brain damage, which sleep mitigates against. Walker states that the lack of sleep correlates to both altzimers disease and cancer.

Ryan Munsey, host of the Better Human Project podcast and writer of F**k Your Feelings, highlights that a lack of sleep makes the imigula – the part of brain that makes you act impulsively – more active by up to 60%. This has clear implications on motivation and all kinds of decision making processes.

So we can fairly say, which those with young children can surely attest to, that lack of sleep does have a negative impact on overall health.

There are some differences of opinion regarding how to find these extra hours sleep which many will loose in our 24 hour all systems go society. Many will point to the weekend lie in to find the extra hours back. Dr Rhonda Patrick, another perennial Joe Rogan guest, echoes this view. She has stated research suggests that long weekend sleep may compensate for short weekday sleep. Adding that short weekday sleep was not a risk factor for increased early mortality if it was combined with medium to long weekend sleep.

Sleep & Exercise

A leading light in the field of sleep is Nick Littlehales. He was sleep consultant to Alex Ferguson’s Manchester Utd and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid, and is the author of the super practical book Sleep. Nick warns against the lie in however if you’re looking to improve overall sleep, advocating a consistent get up time. This is especially if viewing sleep through the lens of exercise and recovery.

Exercise and sleep do come hand in hand to a degree with the side effects of a heavy gym session, run, etc, often being perfect for setting you up nicely to hit the hey. Couple of points to consider though.

Ben Greenfield, bio hacker kingpin and previous personal trainer of the year, states if you exercise any closer than 3 hours to the end of your day, it elevates core temperature to the point it can effect deep sleep cycles.

Ben proposes a cold shower as it decreases your core temperature following strenuous exercise and could result in better sleep. Be aware though as it may decrease the efficacy of the work out, especially if you have been doing resistance training. This is as the cold will reduce inflammation, which although generally positive, it’s also what’s wanted for adaptations to get stronger/faster. If you want a little more info regarding cold exposure, check out my previous post: https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/09/24/the-power-in-a-cold-shower/

Anyways, let’s crack on with some practical tips as to how you can improve your sleep. I’m going to present a bunch of suggestions, but first, I want to introduce you to a little game changer..

Measuring Sleep

Right, this strategy was presented by Nick Littlehales and it had a pretty big impact for me. Nick points out that the “8 hours sleep” mentality is essentially just an arbitrary number, not the most effective for recovery and not actually based on the cycles we sleep in. A full cycle, he states, is 90 minutes. Nick argues a more productive way to think about sleep is in these 90 minute cycles spread throughout the course of a week as opposed to just one night.

These are his key points:

– First, aim for 35 full cycles of 90 minutes in a 7 day week

– Get up at the same consecutive time each morning

– Aim with 5 cycles a night, however play with 4 and 6 cycles, different people will have different needs

– If you miss your usual bed time, wait until the next 90 minute cycle to come round

(example – missing 11pm for usual 6:30am get up, go to bed at the next cycle, 12:30am). This can be tough if tired but try doing some light exercise for example.

– Missed cycles can be added in over the course of the week if needed. Just keep to the same get up time and work back 90 minutes each time.

– Try to avoid 3 conservative nights of less than 5 cycles unless you’ve already determined you only need 4 cycles a night to perform optimally

– Aim for 4 nights of 5 90 minute cycles a week minimum. Again, unless you really can perform optimally on less and are having trouble getting off to sleep and waking up long before the alarm.

– In the midst of working your weeks out to incorporate your different sleep cycles, look where possible to incorporate 30 / 90 min CRP controlled recovery periods, (CRP), in the middle of the day between 12 – 2pm. I can appreciate this is an indulgence many won’t have so even try a 30 minute CRP around 5pm.

Nodding Off

So what about getting off to sleep? That is often the biggy for many. Well firstly, a non active digestive system will greatly help. Try to leave 3 hours after your last meal before bed or at least 90 mins following a light snack before bed.

Coming back to the sleep cycles. Nick Littlehales highlights some people can just operate on less sleep so firstly do play with the 90 minute cycles and extend them to going to bed later.

A good supplement combination is magnesium citrate and potassium citrate. Try 200 mg of magnesium citrate an hour before bed. If this isn’t enough try stacking with 400/500mg potassium citrate.

If you have any reservations in taking supplements (and those recommended are all natural mineral based), then there are other strategies to incorporate.

Ryan Munsey recommends gratitude journaling before bed. Keep this to only 3 things to avoid any negativity creeping in at a struggle to find many. Gratitude helps with shifting the mindset away from anxiety and into a more relaxed mode for sleep. Read more on my previous post to learn about the benefits of having a gratitude practice: https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/10/15/snack-hack-12-having-a-gratitude-practice/

A hot bath can raise your body temperature to that of when it usually shuts down to sleep. However, keep your room cool and avoid socks or excessive layers. This helps to regulate blood flow and keep it circulating around your core. Another little tip, according to Nick Littlehales, the ideal sleeping position is the fetal position on your non dominant side. This is something to do with the phycology of you covering your heart with your strongest side which helps gives an internal subliminal calming message.

Breathe

So the next big tip to clean up your sleep is ensuring you’re nose breathing. The importance of this concept in sleep was introduced to me by breath work guru Patrick Mckeown. Patrick enmphasies nose breathing for both athletic performance and overall health and well-being.

Nose breathing when sleeping acts to ensure a deep good quality sleep by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, (rest and digest). Mouth breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system, (fight or flight) which stimulates homones connected to a heightened state.

If you’re a snorer or are waking up with a dry mouth, you’re mouth breathing in your sleep. Now Patrick advises taping your mouth closed with breathable tape but I have great results using a nostril dilater. This simple little tool you can stick up your nose and will cost about £2:50 (including postage!) from eBay.

Where the Magic Happens

Other considerations are how your room is set up. Firstly, is it serene, minimal and calming, or rather a shrine to Apple technology and abstract art? Essentially the less stimulating factors, whether it be art, photos, electronics or general clutter, the better. Electronics can particularly have a negative effect with excessive screen time (phone/laptops) emitting blue light which will serve to stimulate you. Most phones have a night mode so try to ensure it’s on, or better still, stick it on airplane mode outside of the room.

If you are looking to spruce up your sleeping space however, and more importantly help improve your sleep, think about getting more plants. Shaun Stevenson (sleep messiah) recommends NASA’s top recommended air filtering plant – English Ivy – it’s nocturnal and releases oxygen during the night rather than the day, helping to improve your air quality.

Lastly, a couple more tips via Nick Littlehales on the all important sleep kit AKA bed & bedding. Super king size is the minimum size for mattress for a couple. The frame is effectively a decorative item so spend your money in the mattress as a priority. Try to buy hypo-allergenic bed clothes or minimum 300 thread count. Clean regularly.

Conclusion

Ok, I’m going to leave you with this little analogy via Nick Littlehales. I want you to picture a scene. You’re on a deserted desert island. The sun has gone down and its pitch dark aside from the stars in the sky. You have no electronics just you and your tent. You’ve got a log fire going and it’s burning down. Once it’s out, you’ll pick yourself up and head to bed. Now this is exactly what the ideal wind down bedtime routine would look like when considering how we evolved. Everything and anything that can be put in place to get a step closer to this image is a step in the right direction of better sleep. Till next time.

What the experts say – the 2 minute read – Help Manage your Blood Sugars

Welcome back to the ‘what the experts say’ series. These 2 minute reads give you a snapshot of what the experts are saying on the cutting edge of the health and wellness sphere.

So, today we be looking at managing those tricky blood sugars. Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is essentially the amount of sugar that the bloodstream carries to all the cells in the body to supply energy. When food (especially carbohydrates) are broken down by the body to form glucose, your body produces the hormone insulin to transport the glucose around the body for energy.

Issues occur when too much insulin is secreted due to to much glucose being produced consistently. Insulin resistance is on the far end of the scale – think diabetes. On the other end you have ‘hangry’ (hungry/angry), post meal dips in energy and foggy head.

Alrighty, first hot tip from mr primal himself, Mark Sisson. Mark has been one of the fore bearers of the paleo movement and his books give a great insight into tailoring your nutrition, workouts and lifestyle more inline with an evolutionary prospective.

So, his tip – avoid highly processed vegetable and seed oils. They promote insulin resistance by creating oxidative stress in the liver, which Mark describes as ‘the control tower’ for the whole body.

Next tip is via bio hacker website, which, as said on the tin, presents many a great bio hack. They advise apple cider vinegar for lowering blood sugar. It’s especially best to take at night as helps blood sugars balance overnight for the morning and could also help improve sleep.

Building on this last recommendation, we have a pro tip from Mr Aubrey Marcus. He’s contributed a few to this series. In a nutshell he’s the CEO of Onnit and an absolute wealth of knowledge when it comes to optimising health and well-being.

Aubrey advises to reduce blood sugars after eating and to improve digestion, try this concoction:

– 30ml apple cider vinegar

– 1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

– 90ml room temp water

Lastly, and again from Mr Marcus, try adding soluble fibre to your high carb food to reduce the impact of on blood glucose. Think psyllium or chia seeds. This will slow the absorption of sugars into the blood system. So where you can, always use fat and fibre to delay the immediate blood sugar spike.

Alrighty, that was just about the two minute mark, please like, share and comment if this was helpful in anyway! Till next time.

Fasting for Brain Health and to Treat Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Right then! Welcome back to the What Supp Blog, the one stop shop for all things performance.

Today’s post is bought via some pretty powerful insights from Mr Dr Daniel Pompa. Dr Pomp (as I’ll affectionately refer to him as) is a pretty damn knowledgeable dude in the health and wellness space. His specialty in particular however, is the use of fasting as a wholistic tool to manage your health and wellbeing.

Ok, obviously fasting as a topic could literally fill a book, (and has, I’d recommend Dr Fung’s complete guide to fasting!),I’m going to narrow it down a little hear. Well, a lot actually. This post will give 7 pretty damn good reasons that Dr Pomp recommends fasting as a remedy to cleanse your brain and manage concussions or brain injuries. It is of note though that many of the adaptations presented completely apply to your overall health, so please don’t think this is limited purely to brain health.

Now, you may well not have had any specific concussions, but you could well play a sport which head impact is a part of the game, namely any full contact sport, or could have been in a car accident for example. Or of course, you just might want to have a brain that performs at its very best. As one of the leading lights of the science behind sleep, Mathew Walker noted, the mere act of just being awake is causing continuous minor brain damage!

It’s worth noting that when we discuss fasting here, I’m referring to anything 24 plus hours. Also, when I say fast I mean purely water fast, anything that the body has to metabolise ,(coffee, herbal tea, etc), could well short change you.

This is all simpler than it sounds with a 24 hour fast being achieved most easily from, for example, fasting from after dinner from say 7pm, to 7pm the next day. To really amp up the effects highlighted below, try and hit that 36 hour mark by seeing through the day and holding out till some time after 7am the following morning (longer the better).

If, however you really want to go deep and see some powerful results, consider a 3, 5, 7 or even 10 day fast. You will likely need a period of aductation to achieve longer fasts (reasonably) comfortably if you are eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates.

I won’t go into huge detail here on the science behind each point, (please check the man’s website and/or podcast), but see below the 7 reasons to implement fasting post injury;

1. Promoting autophagy . This is probably one of the best known health promoting by products of fasting. Autophagy is the body’s process of ridding bad cells/bad DNA to promote new healthy cell growth. This is especially important for your brain, and especially if you’ve suffered accumulative or acute damage.

2. There is a natural occurrence of stem cells rising. The fasting triggers them to rise up and this subsequently starts the healing process.

3. Energy diversion. It takes a certain amount of energy to process and metabolise food. Fasting triggers the body’s innate intelligence to start to use this extra energy which has been saved to start the healing process.

4. Turning off bad DNA. Yes you do have the genes you have, but what turns them on and what turns them off is all primarily down to nutritional and environmental factors. In a nutshell, fasting down regulates the bad genes and up regulate your good genes.

5. Gut health. The gut is not called your second brain for nothing. Many neurotransmitters are formed in the gut as well as it being home to all your gut microbes. Fasting can cause a change to the gut michrobiame and hence fix your gut health.

6. Brain benefits from higher ketone production. Now, similar to fasting, the benefits of ketones would fill a book. You don’t however have to start a ketogenic diet to benefit as fasting is a sure fire way to kickstart your liver into producing higher ketone levels.

7. Optimise hormone levels. This one is a lil bit of a shocker as fasting can actually elevate human growth hormone, (HGH), and norepinephrine. HGH is secreted by the brain and stimulates cell growth and reproduction. It also promotes lean tissue and helps mobilize fat, (try telling that to a muscle head down the local gym). Norepinephrine increases arousal and alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention.

Alrighty, well there you have it, 7 good reasons to get your fast on. As already stated, all 7 have far reaching beneficial effects across the board so don’t let not having a head injury, be a good reason to not fast! Till next time.