How’s Your Lymphatic System? (it’s important)

Until the other day I had only heard of the Lymphatic System in serious conditions and  not given much thought to the role it plays in our body and how an efficient Lymphatic System can help increase your recovery and overall health.

What is the Lymphatic System?

Your Lymphatic System removes waste from every cell in your body and regulates your immune system, its function is to move a clear liquid called Lymph, containing white blood cells around your body to clear out waste and toxins. You have almost twice as much Lymph in your body than you do blood! the network is HUGE! Throughout the Lymph network are small structures called Lymph Nodes, in times of attack/inflammation/harmful organisms your lymph nodes go into overdrive to product antibodies and often can become sensitive or tender.

This is part of the reason I started to read up on the Lymphatic System, a few months ago I detached my Adductor and burst several blood vessels in my leg resulting in blood pooling, my leg filled with blood and became severely bruised, over the next few weeks I could feel tender areas around my groin and swelling, researching online it suggested that my Lymph Nodes could be in overdrive and even congested, preventing a speedy recovery. As I was sitting on the couch on my ass all day unable to move my leg…good times!…I started researching and reading about the incredible role your Lymphatic System plays in the body.

Interestingly your Lymphatic System does not have a pump, like your heart, to move Lymph around your body, instead it requires your movement/muscle contraction and help to get around, one of the best ways of course is exercise!

This is where it gets tricky with a busted leg, being sat on my backside all day, certainly was not helping in Lymph drainage and recovery of my injury. I wanted to find out further symptoms of a sluggish Lymphatic System and to see if there were any supplements or dietary changes I could make to improve the overall well being of my system, reaching the conclusion that an optimal and efficient Lymphatic System would not only assist in the recovery of my injury, but now armed with this information meant that keeping a healthy system at the top of my priority list will help long term with training, recovery and health!

Let’s imagine you’re injured or have toxins in your body, but you sit on the couch or lay in bed not moving, this can lead to a pooling effect of toxins, and in severe cases create a blockage in your Lymphatic System.

What are some of the symptoms of a sluggish Lymphatic System?

As I researched this, I started to realize that perhaps my Lymphatic System needed help a long time ago!…

  • Dry skin
  • Feeling tired
  • Bloating
  • Trouble sleeping/staying asleep
  • Holding on to water in trouble areas (lower back for me)
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Migrains
  • Loss of appetite
  • GI Issues
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Cellulite

Just to name a few! have you ever had a day where you feel sluggish and mental fog? again these could be symptoms of a poor Lymphatic System.

For me sleep was big thing, I often wake in the night and find it hard to get back to sleep, in the afternoons I feel an overwhelming fatigue and as the day goes on I find water retention increases and bloating becomes an issue.

So how can we maintain a healthy Lymphatic System or even repair it?

  1. Clean up your diet, stop eating processed crap, meat, dairy, gluten and reduce sugar/refined carbohydrates.
  2. Supplement with liver and kidney enzymes/support/supplements
  3. Take an intolerance test to foods or allergies test that may be putting added stress on your body.
  4. Drink at least 2 liters of filtered or purified water a day
  5. Exercise regularly – skipping or jumping on a trampoline can be one of the best ways to increase efficiency in less that 10min a day!
  6. Try not to sit/be inactive for extended periods of time
  7. There are specialist lymphatic massage experts that can stimulate lymphatic drainage
  8. De-stress – take time for yourself, reduce general stress around you

As I already take part in most of the above! I decided to seek out some additional supplements and a tiger roller! to support my Lymphatic System.

Supplements I found were…

  • Swanson Condition Specific Kidney Essentials
  • Swanson Ultra Diosvein Diosmin/Hesperidein
  • Swanson Condition Lymph Essentials with Yellow Clover Extract
  • Liv-52
  • Milk Thistle

As for the Tiger Roller, this thing is amazing, it is a massage roller that I have been using all week on my leg and feels like it makes a huge impact!

It is very early to tell with the supplements as this is only day 3, but last night I had the highest quality night sleep I have had in about 6 weeks and woke up today looking drier than normal. Time will tell, but I am positive about the assistance these supplements can give me and will keep the health of my Lymphatic System at the top of my list for overall body efficiency and well being.

Podcast 003 – Lizzi Shaw, Dorset Vegan

dorset-veganThis week I have the pleasure of talking with Lizzi Shaw, better known as Dorset Vegan.

Originally starting out on a personal quest to find more local vegan friendly places to eat out, Lizzi realised others were searching for the same information and began to actively promote local vegan friendly businesses under the Dorset Vegan brand.

Dorset Vegan now provides an online resource used by over 7,000 people and Lizzi actively works with local businesses to develop and promote their vegan provision to locals and tourists alike.

You can find out more about Dorset Vegan at

Website dorsetveganevents.co.uk

FB https://www.facebook.com/dorsetvegan

Twitter http://twitter.com/dorset_vegan

 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness DOMS

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness DOMS

What a great leg session! You leave the gym feeling awesome, everything is wonderful in life and then 24 hours later as you bend down to get in the car…aghhhh….oh my god….what the hell is this?! the DOMS hit!

leg-training

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short, can range from an achy nagging feeling and muscle stiffness to a deep burning sensation, making even the most simple of tasks more difficult than a tough mudder event!

What the hell is this soreness..and why now…48 hours later am I feeling this way?

Delayed onset muscle soreness is one result of exercise-induced muscle damage, although there is variance among exercises and individuals, the soreness usually increases in intensity in the first 24 hours after exercise. It peaks from 24 to 72 hours, then subsides and disappears up to seven days after exercise.

The reason this happens…no one really knows for sure, however it is thought to be as a result of microtrauma to the muscle being exercised.

This is what is meant by “breaking down” your muscle fibers during training, by working out with high intensity and resistance we cause mechanical damage to the muscles exercised.

The idea of building muscle is that you do exactly this, you intentionally break down muscle fiber causing microtrauma and then as your body recovers it will not only repair the damage done, but look to safe guard you in the future against this potential threat, in theory your body super compensates for the damage that occurs and hey presto, you build more muscle! Not only that, but your body will also become more efficient at repairing the specific muscle trained, this is why after several weeks of doing the same exercise routine you no longer feel sore.

That may be where the whole “switch it up to keep your body guessing” nonsense came about.

It’s not so much that you need to “switch things up” every other week, but you should be either increasing your lifts and/or volume week to week to provide a new stimulus to your body and give it a reason to change.

..so, DOMS = more muscle?

Yes…but no..helpful huh, but hear me out. You see hypertrophy (building muscle) is caused by 3 factors (check out my previous article here), only 1 of which is applicable when considering DOMS; Muscle Damage.

Whilst muscle damage is a contributing factor to building muscle, it is not entirely essential, muscle growth can still occur regardless of muscle damage by other mechanisms.

Not to mention that too much muscle soreness can be a bad thing. What happens when its time to train legs again and you still ache? you likely wont be motivated..or have the ability to produce as much force as you would normally and therefore resulting in a sub par workout.

A recent article by Brad Schoenfeld and Bret Contreras from the Strength and Conditioning Journal examined “muscle soreness serves as a valid indicator of muscle hypertrophy” and concluded “it remains debatable as to whether DOMS is an accurate gauge of muscle damage”

The take home from all this?

You don’t need to experience DOMS after a workout to build muscle, and shouldn’t rely on this indicator as the be all and end all as a measure of your productiveness in the gym.

How to treat DOMS?

If you’re starting out, delayed onset muscle soreness can be reduced or prevented by gradually increasing the intensity of a new exercise program. Don’t jump right in at the deep end, start out with low volume and increase your intensity and sets as time goes on.

Despite popular belief, stretching will not help DOMS, in fact, extreme stretching can even cause DOMS.

In most cases your soreness will decrease within a couple of days, if you are really suffering, then focus on any measure that will increase blood flow to that area;

  • Low intensity cardio
  • Massage
  • Sauna
  • etc

Make sure your diet has adequate protein, healthy fats and that you are not deficient in minerals and/or vitamins.

Should I train the same muscle if I still have DOMS?

The safest answer is no, if you have are experiencing any pain then do not train the same body part again. This is why bodybuilders will split their routine across a week. Whilst they may have DOMS in their legs, it won’t stop them training back or chest etc. By rotating different body parts per session you can continue to train regardless of DOMS.

That said, as long as your body part is trained at least 72 hours from the previous session, then regardless of DOMS, I personally train again. In the beginning I was really sore, but as time goes on your body adapts to the frequency of your training. In my opinion, if nutrition and rest are adequate you muscle will be ready to be trained again, regardless of the soreness.

A better way to gauge progress?

Rather than rely on muscle soreness as our indicator as to whether we should train or not, there is a better way, keep a log book of your lifts. I can not stress enough the importance of a log book. Every session record your weights and reps, then try to beat those numbers each week, whether it’s the number or reps performed or weight used.

A log book will tell you very quickly if you are doing too much, your lifts will stall or even regress and this will be the best indicator that you are doing too much.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/doms-the-good-the-bad-and-what-it-really-means-to-your-training

How to Structure Your Diet

how-to-structure-your-diet

In a previous post I discussed the best diet for vegans that exercise http://www.vegan-body-coach.com/best-diet-vegans/

Today I want to share with you what I consider the best way to structure your diet across the day. (this is my opinion on nutrient timing and works well for me, but ultimately the best diet is the one that YOU can adhere too, we are all different)

First it’s really important that we understand carbohydrates and the role they play in our body composition goals.

Carbohydrates are not necessary for your body to function. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, unlike essential fatty acids (fats) and essential amino acids (protein), your body can continue to thrive regardless of carbohydrates as long as your body has everything else it needs.

There are 2 ways your body can create energy without carbohydrates, one is through fat where by the body will produce ketones, you may have heard of people following a “Keto” diet, which is the process by which the body metabolises fat to Ketones for energy.

The other is Gluconeogenesis, whereby the body will metabolise proteins to glucose for fuel.

So why eat carbs at all?

I eat carbs because;

  1. It helps me to look “full” When you consume carbohydrates, your body converts them to glycogen, which is then stored in the muscles for energy. For every gram of glycogen stored, you gain approximately 2.7 grams of water. When your body fat is low, but your glycogen stores are full, you will have full muscles with great shape. Instead of looking “flat”.
  2. Energy…when exercising your body’s no1 fuel source is carbohydrates. At times when our body needs quick access to energy to perform an exercise, I dont want to wait around for the conversion of proteins or fats to energy, I like to sip on a high GI carb powder to give my body everything it needs to perform at an optimal rate… This is even more important in times of calorie deficit, when you are tired or feeling sluggish. During high-intensity exercise, carbohydrates are the main source of fuel your body taps into. High-intensity exercise, whether it’s HIIT training or heavy resistance exercise, primarily uses carbohydrates for fuel. Muscle glycogen is the main fuel supply for intense exercise and is a major fuel source during the first hour of exercise.
  3. Despite popular belief it is not specifically carbs that makes you fat. It’s an excess of calories. If you are in a calorie surplus you gain weight, regardless of macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat) split. Likewise with losing weight, a calorie deficit is the fundamental reason for losing weight.

How do I use carbs?

I have always had the best results from the gym when I utilize my daily carbohydrates around the workout window; Pre, Intra, Post..when my body needs them.

At all other times of the day your body does not need carbs to perform day to day functions and I achieve a better body composition with low carb or low GI carb foods across the remainder of the day.

Having been considerably over weight in the past, I also have insulin resistance (will do a separate article on this subject soon), meaning that high carbs at every meal causes a long list of issues such as hypoglycemia, irritability and fat gain.

I currently train first thing in the morning, upon wake (30 minutes before a workout) I will have;

10g BCAA + 10g Cyclic Dextrin (high gi carb powder) + 5g creatine

(I will write another article about the specifics of workout nutrition soon going into more detail)

Intra workout I sip on the same cocktail;

10g BCAA + 30g Cyclic Dextrin (high gi carb powder) + 5g creatine

and generally finish the drink 15-20min before the end of my workout.

my post workout meal is then 1 hour after the workout. Currently I enjoy a couple of bagels and a soy protein isolate smoothie with frozen berries and banana.

Put it all together…

  • 5:45am – Pre workout
  • 6:30-7:30am Intra workout
  • 8:30am Breakfast

My next meal of the day is approx 11:30 or 12:00 depending on schedule, and will consist of high protein, medium fat and low GI carbs, something like..

  • 200g Tofu
  • 200g Lentils
  • 100g Broccoli

3 hours later I need a snack mid afternoon, I normally opt for a protein shake or protein snack and a handful of peanuts or cashews.

Dinner is high protein, high fat and low carb. Lately I enjoy a bag of Vegan Quorn fillets, 1 pack of caulirice and some more broccoli. Normally I will throw it all in a pan and create a stir fry or curry.

The meal itself is not high fat, however I love chocolate! even when dieting! so straight after my meal I will have 50g 80% dark chocolate.

Depending on my total protein intake across the day, I will then add in an extra shake or soy yoghurt before bed if needed.

If I were training in the evening (and this would be my preference if schedule allowed), I would change the meal layout as follows;

Breakfast – Low carb, high fat, high protein (scrambled tofu? avacado etc)

Lunch – low carb, high fat, high protein (caulirice, tofu, broccoli, peanuts)

Mid afternoon – high carb, high protein, low fat (couple of rice cakes, sliced banana, agave, protein shake)

Train at 5 or 6pm – intra workout high carb + BCAA

Post workout – High carb, low fat, high protein (jasmine rice, vegan quorn, veg)

Desert – oats & berries or similar medium carb treat

Bed – shake as needed

Notice that anyway I do this, I will include a treat for myself in the evening, this helps me adhere to the diet.

What about rest days?

My training preference is a one on one off split, upper/lower body parts. Day 1, training, would be as per the above and then on a rest day ALL of my meals would be low carb, high protein and medium fat.

Why is this way of eating so great?

Training days you get to eat lots of delicious carbs. As most of your carbs are around the workout you can factor in some of your favorite foods..even though you are on a diet…hence the reason I eat bagels post workout!

Then on rest days you eat lots of delicious fats. Peanut butter, avacado, dark chocolate etc.

You essential rotate your food choices and macronutrients day to day, this means that you are always getting a variety of foods from high fat to high carb and removes any restriction a typical diet would place on you.

Variety is the key to diet adherence, the less restricted you are and more choices you have, the easier it will be to transition this into a lifestyle…not just a diet.

If you have any questions about your own diet feel free to message me or comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/gluconeogenesis.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/309135-can-a-high-carb-diet-cause-you-to-retain-water/

4 Fuel Sources Your Body Can Use During Exercise

Podcast 002 – Macro Mitch

macro-mitch

This week I meet professional free runner, coach, fitness model and vegan superstar chef Macro Mitch.

We talk about where his vegan journey began, fitness, nutrition and some of the delicious creations he puts together at Offbeet, where he works as an incredible vegan chef.

You can find out more about Macro Mitch on his website or social..

Website: http://macromitch.com/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/macromitch

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/macromitch

Podcast 001 – Welcome to the Vegan Body Coach Podcast

Welcome to the Vegan Body Coach podcast, where every couple of weeks I will interview experts from around the country to bring you the latest and most up to date vegan nutrition and exercise news. If you are confused about how to build muscle or lose fat on a vegan diet, or where to get your protein from, then tune in to discover new tips, important information and life changing discussions.

This week I discuss my history with diet, weight loss and veganism.