Refresh your workout by trying something new

 

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No matter what your fitness level is, you can always benefit from changing-up your workout routine. On top of providing a refreshing change, trying a new form of exercise can help you:

 

Improve fitness: Just like cross-training, doing something different will help build up new muscle groups. This will make you a stronger, more powerful athlete. If you’re an avid runner, try a weekly yoga class to further strengthen your core and improve flexibility.

 

Prevent injuries: A repetitive workout regime can lead to injury by overworking the same muscles or putting repetitive stress on joints. Trying a new activity can help reduce stress injuries and even out muscle imbalances for extra physical support.[1] If your go-to sport is cycling, why not try boxing to enhance upper body strength?

 

Feel more motivated: Trying a new activity is stimulating! It can take you to a fresh new environment and introduce you to new people. When going to the gym loses its luster, join an ultimate Frisbee league or other sports team for social motivation.

 

Boost weight loss: The more repetitive your workout is, the more efficient your body gets at doing it. Trying something new stimulates your muscles and uses more energy (a.k.a burns more calories!).[2] If you no longer break a sweat at aerobics class, switch-it-up with a hula-hooping class.

 

After all, variety is the spice of life! Tell us your workout tips in the comments section bellow.

[1] Batalha, N. et al. “Does a Water-Training Macrocycle Really Create Imbalances in Swimmers’ Shoulder Rotator Muscles?” European Journal of Sports Science April 23 (2014): 1-6. Web. 17 January 2015.

[2] Stewart, Brett and Jason Warner. Functional Cross Training. Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 2014. Print.

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5 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight Over Winter

5 Ways to Lose Weight from PGX If the winter marks the time of year where you’re more likely to stay indoors and drink hot chocolate by the fire rather than exercise, it might be time to learn to love snowshoeing, overhaul your diet, and borrow a dog. Read on for 5 healthy ways to lose weight over winter.

1. Make Exercise Fun!

Many of us find it difficult to exercise for exercise’s sake, meaning that over the cooler months we pack on the pounds, lose some of our fitness, and feel more sluggish and unhealthy.

Rather than concentrating on what the weighing scale says, focus on having fun and staying active and soon you’ll stop seeing your skis as a guilt-trip and start seeing them as your passport to fun! All it takes is a little change of mindset, so to avoid unhealthy weight gain and stay healthy and fit over winter, how about:

  • Exercising to socialize! Start a snowshoeing or cross-country skiing club with friends old and new!
  • Finding out of the way hot-springs that you have to hike into – the perfect reward for your efforts!
  • Getting the right equipment – if you have gear that’s a pain to use, you won’t use it, so invest in your success!
  • Signing up as a volunteer dog-walker at your local shelter – or taking your friends’ pups on hikes if you can’t commit full-time to an animal companion
  • Checking out your local community center for badminton, tennis, squash, swimming or indoor volleyball opportunities – you’ll be in great shape for beach volleyball!

Of course, it’s not all about exercise, especially as it can be tempting to indulge in warming comfort foods in winter. Pies, puddings, and other hearty fare typically contain an excess of calories from simple carbohydrates and fats and, added to the excess alcohol and treats that you’re likely to consume over the festive period, this can see you starting out the new year with a few more pounds than you might like.

2. Try Plant Proteins

One great way to stay in shape over winter is to try plant proteins. Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, legumes and seeds are all great sources of protein and, unlike meat and dairy, plant proteins are accompanied by fibre, phytonutrients and healthy fats, in addition to essential vitamins and minerals.

Some great choices include:

  • Quinoa – 8g of protein per cup, excellent added to salads and baked goods
  • Buckwheat – 6g of protein per cup, a great substitute for regular flour
  • Hempseed – 10g of protein per 2 tbsps, great for salads, yoghurts, cookies, and smoothies
  • Chia seed – 4g of protein per 2 tbsps, add to salads, smoothies and desserts
  • Rice and beans – 7g of protein per cup
  • Spirulina – 4g of protein per tbsp, add to smoothies and energy bars

3. Know Your Nuts

Many weight-loss articles say to eat nuts as a health snack, but there are so many types of nut available and they can have wildly different calorie counts.

For example, 200 calories equals:

  • 8 walnuts
  • 10 macadamia nuts
  • 10 pecans
  • 22 cashews
  • 22 peanuts
  • 29 almonds
  • 62 pistachios

So, when you’re snacking on nuts, mix it up so you get a good intake of nutrients from a variety of nuts, but don’t go overboard on calories.

4. Substitute High Calorie for Low Calorie, Nutrient Dense Foods

Cutting calories can quickly lead to a cut in essential nutrients, so it pays to learn some handy substitutions that mean you’re still getting the vitamins and minerals you need but without the surplus energy.

Some great nutritious replacements to consider include:

  • Cacao nibs for chocolate chips
  • Chia seeds for butter in baking – 2-3 tbsps chia soaked in a cup of water for 15 mins can replace a cup of butter
  • Mashed banana (1 cup) for a cup of oil or butter
  • 1 cup pureed avocado for 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce for 1 cup sugar (ideal for oatmeal cookies, just reduce the rest of the liquid by about a 1/4 cup)

5. Increase Fibre and Water Intake

Our wintertime food cravings are often the result of dehydration as many of us forget to drink enough water over the cooler months. Staying hydrated with herbal teas, mulled apple juice (in moderation), and warm water with lemon slices can help take the edge off hunger as well as help keep metabolism working nicely.

Along with drinking enough water, a good intake of fibre can also help combat food cravings. To help you feel full while cutting calories increase your fibre intake by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses, legumes, and whole grains. You can also add PGX to your morning oatmeal or cereal, as well as in soups and stews, or simply mix it with a glass of water or juice and you’ll get that same satisfied feeling of fullness but with significantly fewer calories.

*Remember to drink additional water (8 fl. oz.) after ingesting PGX. If you are taking medications, take one hour prior to or two hours after taking PGX.

 

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5 Cold Weather Exercise Tips

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As the hours of daylight drop in winter so can our enthusiasm for exercise, and even the most hardened runners and cyclists can have a tough time when the temperature plummets. Staying active in the cooler months helps to improve our energy levels and mood, though, so to help you stay safe and on the move here are 5 top tips for cold weather exercise.

  1. Layer Up!

You may be surrounding by people grumbling about the cold but once you start climbing that hill you’ll soon be working up a sweat. Layers aren’t just for the fashionable, they’re essential for exercising in the fall and winter as multiple layers means you can quickly cool down during a strenuous stretch and then seal in that heat by adding a layer of clothing as you barrel down the hill into an icy wind.

  1. Warm Up and Warm Down!

Your muscles will really complain if you go from a cold standstill to a demanding full out run. Make sure to do at least five minutes of stretching, increasing in intensity, before even thinking about tackling that hill on your bike or running around the seawall. Then, when you get home, make sure to stretch again as otherwise your muscles can cool down too quickly and cramp up.

  1. Get Reflective!

It’s always good to reflect on your actions, but that’s not what this tip is about. Make sure you are visible to drivers and other road users by sticking strategically placed reflective strips on your bike panniers, cycling clothes, running shoes, bike helmet, and even your backpack, especially if you tend to run at dawn or dusk as these are times when poor visibility and tired eyes increase the risk of accidents.

  1. Buddy Up!

Not only is it easier to rouse yourself from a warm and cosy bed when you know your running partner is waiting for you, it’s also a good idea to avoid running alone in the dark. Consider joining a running group for motivation and safety, or at least make sure someone knows your route and that you have a check-in buddy for the end of your run.

  1. Get a Grip!

Your summer cycling and running gear might not be best suited to exercising in winter, when roads and sidewalks can become slippery with frost and ice. Treat yourself to some shoes with a better grip, and check the tread on your bike tires to make sure you’re not liable to slip and slide.

These are just a few ways of staying safe and active when exercising in cold weather, but don’t forget that this is the perfect time of year to try out something new. Maybe you can switch your daily runs for indoor climbing. Perhaps it’s time to try out seasonal sports like cross-country skiing or snowboarding. Or, how about joining a snowshoeing group so you can see those hills and mountains in a whole new light?

What’s your favorite way to stay fit during winter months? Let us know in the comments below!

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What Are the Benefits of Protein Shakes After a Workout?

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I can tell you, without a doubt, that after cycling 139 miles (210km) in a day, a protein shake is a great idea. If you’re not cycling across Canada for charity though, are there really any benefits to including a protein shake in your daily regime? Can a protein shake after a workout help you build muscle, lose weight, or decrease muscle soreness? Could your choice of protein shake actually undo some of the good work you just put in at the gym?

Why You Need Protein

Protein is the main component of muscles, and is essential for the production of hormones, enzymes, immune system cells and even neurotransmitters. Protein is created by the body from amino acids and, although we can synthesize some of these amino acids, essential amino acids have to be acquired through the diet. Without adequate protein we would be in real trouble, and protein shakes are certainly convenient for use after a workout as they provide quick nutrition and hydration to help with muscle growth and repair.

Why Take Protein After a Workout?

Post-workout, too little protein can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue, rather than increased strength and stamina. Taking protein in the first 30 minutes or so after a workout can, however, help the body to begin quickly healing the micro-tears in the muscle, a process which makes muscles stronger over time. The amino acids in a protein shake tend to reach the bloodstream and then the muscles a lot faster than protein bound in food, which is just one reason why protein shakes have become so popular with athletes and gym-goers.

Can I Take Protein at Bedtime?

Protein shakes can also be helpful as a drink before bedtime as some of the amino acids in these drinks are thought to help increase natural levels of growth hormone and thereby help with healing and repair as we sleep, as well as helping to maintain healthy metabolism and bodyweight.

Protein Shakes for Weight Management

Drinking just any old protein shake isn’t going to help with weight loss. In order for that to happen, you need to be exercising those muscles, reducing overall calorie intake and avoiding simple carbohydrates. Unfortunately, some protein shakes contain artificial sweeteners and/or sugars that can sabotage blood glucose control and actually lead to weight gain while increasing muscle soreness and inflammation. Protein shakes designed to help with weight management include those containing soluble fiber, like PolyGlycopleX (PGX). This helps satisfy hunger and decrease appetite, and slows the release of energy from food, thereby supporting healthy blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity, two key elements for successful weight management[i][ii].

The Benefits of PGX Protein Shakes

Adding PGX singles or powder into your favourite protein drink, or using the convenient PGX protein shakes, is an ideal way to ensure you’re getting the protein you need after a workout. A PGX protein shake is also great for when you’re eating breakfast on the go between the gym and work as this can help maintain stable blood glucose throughout the morning and keep cravings at bay until it’s time for lunch. Protein shakes aren’t a replacement for a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle, but can be a great way to ensure adequate protein intake as part of a balanced diet that include nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. In addition to being great after a workout, protein shakes are also idea for meeting nutrition needs if you are:

  • A growing teenager!
  • Starting to work out for the first time
  • Increasing the intensity of your workouts
  • Recovering from an injury or illness
  • Making dietary changes that could compromise protein status (such as switching to a vegan diet)
  • Looking to reduce overall calorie intake as part of a healthy weight management program
  • Doing a ludicrously long charity bike-ride!

What’s your best post-workout tip? Do you have a fantastic recipe for a super-powered protein shake? Let us know in the comments below!

References:

[i] Kacinik, V., Lyon, M., Purnama, M., Reimer, R.A., Gahler, R., Green, T.J., Wood, S. (2011). Effect of PGX®, a novel functional fibre supplement, on subjective ratings of appetite in overweight and obese women consuming a three-day structured, low calorie diet. Nutr Diabetes, 1:e22. doi: 10./038/nutd.2011.18.

[ii] Reichert, R.G., Reimer, R.A., Kacinik, V., Pal, S., Gahler, R.J., Wood, S. (2013). Meal replacements and fibre supplement as a strategy for weight loss. Proprietary PGX meal replacement and PGX fibre supplement in addition to a calorie restricted diet to achieve weight loss in a clinical setting. Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev.

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Workout Nutrition [Infographic]

We’ve got the ultimate guide to workout nutrition!

Don’t undermine your efforts to get in shap with poor eating habits!

We’ve found an excellent infographic to share. So often I hear people say, “I’m exercising regularly but I can’t see anything changing!” Well, I’m sure on the inside, plenty of good things are happening, but if you can’t seem to lose the weight, then it could be your nutrition. Check out this infographic and get the skinny on workout nutrition!

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Fitocracy: a Fitness App

On your marks. Get set. Exercise!

Get in shape with the app that turns fitness into fun and games…

We’ve all got a competitive side right? Now there’s a fitness app that appeals to our inner competitor (racer, fighter, Olympian?) and can help you stay motivated to workout! Fitocracy is an app that turns your exercise routines into games!

Fitness geeks and gurus, Brian Wang and Richard Talens, decided it was time to help people actually fall in love with fitness; not an easy task! With Fitocracy you can climb levels, earn points, and compete in quests and challenges, turning that routine workout into an addictive game world of health and exercise! A healthy habit addiction?! How very convenient!

So if you find yourself lacking in consistant motivation or just looking to stir the exercise pot, try this app and start competing with yourself and your friends. A little healthy competition can go a long way!

 

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Recipe: Banana Chai Protein Smoothie

If you are in the mood for a sweet and spicy smoothie, this is the recipe for you!

Cozy up after your workout with this nutritious protein smoothie from Alive Magazine!

There is something especially appealing about chai teas during the cold winter months. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the warming, spicyness of the aromatic herbs that mix together to create the chai blend…Or maybe it is its exotic origins of the far and warm east that gives chai its appeal. Whatever it is, chai tea is my favourite tea for the cold weather!

But even in cold weather, we need to keep our bodies moving and exercising! So why not go, workout, sweat and then recover with a tasty and nutritious Banana Chai Protein Shake?! With all the flavour kick of chai and the health power of protein, post workout, you really can’t go wrong with this recipe. Try adding some PGX Daily Singles (2.5 grams or 1 stick per shake) and get your fibre in there as well!

Get this Banana Chai Protein Shake recipe and all the nutritional facts for this smoothie from Alive Magazine.

Enjoy!

 

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The Many Benefits of Exercise

Did you know that exercise does more than slim your figure?!

Read on to discover 24 fabulous benefits of getting your exercise groove on!

We often talk about how exercise will help you control those cravings and lose the weight you want to lose. But there really is so much more to exercise than that! Exercise comes with many benefits, both physical and mental! For example, it makes you strong, physically yes but also mentally. Think about it: when it would be so much easier to just plop yourself onto the couch after work or stay bundled up in blankets early in the morning, and you stll get yourself up and moving? Mental strength!

In my internet searchings for interesting tidbits to share, I came across an article at BC Living, 24 Awesome Benefits of Exercise. Here are 24 awesome (like they said) reasons why we should all get at the very least, 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. If you are like me and looking for some motivation, this article will be a big help!

Until tomorrow everyone! Get your exercise on!

 

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Correcting Your Exercise Moves!

Here are the top 5 exercises that people often do wrong…

Save yourself injury and really make your workouts effective by learning the proper exercise postures!

When I saw this infographic, I couldn’t resist sharing it with all of our dear PGX readers. These five exercises are very popular moves to do at home and make full body workouts accessible to anyone, no gym necessary. However, they are easier said than done. As someone who guilty of making at least one (or two…fine, maybe three) of these mistakes in my earlier days of fitness exploration, I find this chart to be an excelent reminder.

For a more detailed explanation of how to do all five of these moves correctly, visit the Spark People Blog: The Top 5 Exercises You’re Doing Wrong.

 

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DIY Fitness Fashion Tee

DIY fashion for our dollar-savvy fans!

Don’t let your exercise outfits break the bank when you can create your own fabulous tee’s!

Do whatever it takes to motivate you to workout. I find cute exercise clothes are a huge help, but these cute clothes can be so expensive! On top of that expense, my closet is usually bursting with clothes that haven’t seen the light of day in a long while. Those clothes deserve to be given a second chance, some new life, don’t you think?

So here’s a fabulous little tutorial on how to breathe (or cut) new life into old t-shirts. You’ll be able to save money and the time you wold spend taking out those old clothes and finding them a new home!

Catherine of Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth shared her simple and fun project: DIY Workout Shirt.

Enjoy!

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