Thanks to the global success of the Movember campaign, every year in November the critical issue of men’s health is placed in the spotlight.
It was back in 2003, that two friends in Australia (Travis Garone & Luke Slattery) recruited 30 guys willing to grow a moustache for the month of November. Inspired by the Mo’s ability to generate a conversation, the following year they decided to set up the Movember Foundation to help raise awareness of issues relating to men’s health. From these humble beginnings, the Movember Foundation has grown from strength to strength and is now ranked 72nd out of the top 500 NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the world. To date, the Movember Foundation has raised £402 million since 2003.
There’s no doubt that men’s health deserves a whole month of attention. And despite the phenomenal achievements of the Movember Foundation there’s still a way to go to get men’s health back up to where it needs to be. Gender is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and life expectancy. On average, across the world, men die 6 years earlier than women. In addition:
• Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the UK and the second most common cancer in men worldwide. The number of cases is expected to almost double to 1.7 million cases by 2030
• Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 25-49
• Poor mental health affects men more than women. Three quarters of suicides are by men. On average, 13 men each day take their life by suicide in the UK.
• 41% of men in high-income countries don’t exercise enough
To show our support for the Movember Foundation, every week this month we’re going to look a bit closer into these issues and give you some nutritional tips to put into practice and hopefully pass on too. This week we’ve put together 5 steps to help you fuel your workout so you can achieve the maximum results for your efforts.
5 Steps to a Well-Fuelled Workout
1) Fuel your workout – If you’ve managed to find some time for exercise make sure you’re getting the most out of it by getting your body ready to perform with the right pre-exercise fuel. This can be a meal, snack or even a drink depending on how much time you have between fuel and exercise:
• 2-3 hours before - If you’re thinking about exercise fuel 2-3 hrs before your workout the best option is a balanced meal containing some slow release carbohydrates with protein and fat. This could be a bowl of porridge made with milk, topped with fruit and nuts or wholegrain rice with chicken, roasted vegetables and toasted sunflower seeds.
• 1hr before – At this point you need something that’s going to provide energy in a faster form such as a fruity flapjack, cereal bar or a banana.
• Immediately before – If you’ve arrived at the gym and realized you haven’t eaten it’s still not too late, however you’ll need something that’s going to get into your system fast at this point. Drinks such as fruit juice and fruit cordial or energy gels are best at this point.
2) Are you fuelling your recovery? Post-exercise fuel is just as important as nourishing your body before exercise, yet this is one area that people either get wrong or even miss out completely. You will get much more out of your exercise session if you provide the right nutrition immediately after so it’s worth being organised and making sure you have a snack ready to eat straight after your session. The post-exercise snack needs to provide a combination of high quality protein with carbohydrate too. A homemade smoothie is a great way to achieve this combination. Blend together a banana, apple juice, live yoghurt, frozen berries, nut butter, flaxseeds and some silken tofu and drink immediately. For an even quicker fix a powdered formulation providing high quality protein and carbohydrate with essential vitamins and minerals is ideal post-workout and convenient too as all you need to do is add water and shake!
3) Top up your Micronutrients – Your body’s energy production processes require a steady supply of essential vitamins and minerals and exercising regularly places extra demand on this supply. It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough by supplementing with a high quality one a day multivitamin and mineral formula that will ensure these extra needs are met.
4) Check Magnesium – Magnesium is a key nutrient for both energy production and for muscles to work properly too. Unfortunately, typical Western diets do not supply enough magnesium to cope with the extra demands of exercise. You can supplement magnesium in powder form as magnesium glycinate, combined with n-acetyl-carnitine, malic acid, selenium, iodine, B vitamins and vitamin C to support optimal energy production processes.
5) Alkalise your diet – There’s been much talk recently about the health benefits of making your diet more alkaline and this has benefits for exercise performance and recovery too. Make sure your diet contains plenty of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables and swap meat for plant proteins such as beans and lentils to support an alkaline environment. You can supplement with potassium, magnesium, zinc and calcium citrates along with vitamins B5 and B3, alpha lipoic acid and parsley to further support an alkaline state.