Explore how exercise can enhance your health management and fitness. Offering regular boost to your overall well-begin.
How exercise can flatten your glucose curve
Fitting things into a busy day is difficult. So, don’t worry if you haven’t had time to get a full workout in, as there are plenty of ways to incorporate shorter, time-friendly exercises throughout your hectic day. When you exercise, your body uses glucose for energy. This helps keep you steady, particularly after meals, and helps maintain your muscle and aerobic capacity. (1) Movement like yoga may also help reduce stress, which could further impact your glucose. (2) Make a goal to exercise after each meal this week. Consistency is important. Just 15-20 minutes of light walking each day can have a positive impact on your health. If it gets your body moving, it doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do. Whether you walk the dog, take a dance class, or get on the treadmill – any activity is good. If you can’t find time to exercise, try to fit in some smaller activities throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Park your car farther away. If you’re taking public transport, get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. Little changes can make a big difference.
10 marathon tips from a performance nutritionist
Running a marathon is a feat that less than 1% of people attempt in their lifetime. Whether your goal is just to make it across the finish line or put up a new personal best, we’ve got some tips to help you. The average marathon runner crosses the finish line between 4:30 and 5:00 hours, but the body can only store around 90 minutes of carbohydrates to fuel hard-working muscles. Whilst running, your body burns a mixture of fats and carbohydrates with pace and fitness influencing the exact blend of fuel. And, because marathons are a longer duration, some protein will be oxidised, too. You can put in work during training to train your body to burn fat at higher intensities (become more fit and spare glycogen), but to finish strong, you need to implement a fuelling plan. Prepare your gut by practising this plan, including both nutrition and hydration, well ahead of time to increase the chances of a successful race. 10 tips from a performance nutritionist Don’t break the cardinal rule of sports nutrition: never try anything new on race day As a runner, you may also be an adventurous foodie, but race week is not a time to try all the food samples at the race expo nor new foods you encounter while exploring the city hosting the race. Likewise, race day is not the time to try out a new breakfast or anything new on-course in terms of your nutrition or hydration. Instead, stick to foods that worked well and provided steady energy and gut comfort during training. Ideally, going into the race, you should know how your body will respond to your tried-and-true pre-run meal as well as any fuel you plan to take during the race. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) like Lingo can be used in training to help you avoid dips in energy and instead add enough fuel to make high performance a reality. Check on course nutrition Water is provided at many points along the course, and most races also provide sports drinks, electrolyte beverages, and carbohydrate-rich gels. Research what products your race will provide and if you plan on utilising on-course products, make sure you try them first during your long training runs to see if they work for you. A CGM like Lingo can be used to assess how nutrition products are impacting your energy during your run and if you need to add more or less to maintain glucose (energy) levels and pace. Remember to have a backup plan if the on-course products don’t work for you or are not available (or you run past them by accident). Practice your hydration plan The buildup to spring races often calls for training in cooler weather, so as race day approaches, be sure to keep an eye on the forecast. You can’t control what the weather will be, but you can be prepared to dial up or down your fluids and electrolytes. A 2018 study on London Marathon runners found a ~3% detriment to finish time for every 5 °C increase in temperature above 12 °C. (1) This means in warmer temps, you may be on course for longer. Bring a bottle and plan to refill on course, the few extra seconds it will take are worth it. Drink early and often while being cautious not to overhydrate. Replace the electrolytes you are losing in sweat by relying on electrolyte powders (like Abbott’s Pedialyte Sport Powder Packs) during training and racing, simply adding to your water bottle. Set alerts on your watch or phone every 15-20 minutes to take a few sips. Drinking to thirst may work for some, and others may need to rely on programmed drinking. Train your gut Muscles powering your run typically rely on glucose. Trained individuals that consume carbohydrates in their daily diet can store around 90 minutes of fuel before needing to eat or drink during a run. But you’ll want to start replacing burnt fuel well before you hit the 90-minute mark. Practice fuelling during training runs by consuming 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour (some athletes need more and can work up to 90+ grams per hour). (2) Experiment with nutrition and hydration products that you like, can tolerate, and can carry. CGM data can be useful to see how products steady or spike your glucose and if your glucose increases to a level where you are able to maintain pace and performance. Alternatively, if you’re used to fasted training or strictly follow a ketogenic diet and are more metabolically flexible, generalised carbohydrate recommendations may far surpass your needs and tolerance. When adding in fuel, you may opt for a product with slow-release carbohydrates or even sources of fat when needed. Again, CGMs can help guide you providing insights that connect energy levels and performance with glucose trends. Strength train to get fast and avoid injury Running a marathon means training will consist of mostly, well, running. But no training plan is complete without strength training, which can help make you a faster runner and reduce risk of injuries. (3) Additionally, strength training promotes metabolic adaptations in skeletal muscle, (4) helping to improve how efficiently your body uses glucose and fats for fuel. Not only is this advantageous to your running performance, but healthy skeletal muscle is also at the foundation of optimising metabolic health. (5) Rest and recovery Arguably the most difficult part of a training plan is allowing your body to rest so that it can become stronger. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and runners may need more. (6) Sleep ensures physical restoration and also supports optimal metabolic function during the day. (7) Recovery nutrition timing In addition to sleep, nutrient timing plays a critical role in recovery. Within an hour (preferably sooner) of finishing a workout or race, be sure to prioritise refuelling and rehydration. Replace fluid losses by drinking water and electrolytes (mixed into water or from salty foods and potassium from fruits and vegetables) and replenish energy stores with a snack or small meal that includes high-quality carbohydrates (berries and low-sugar granola to accompany Greek yoghurt, or whole grain pancakes to accompany eggs). Last but not least, be sure to prioritise protein. This hard-working nutrient helps keep glucose steady as you recover and is critical for stopping muscle breakdown and jumpstarting muscle repair and growth. Be sure to add in at least 30 grams of protein soon after your sweat session is complete. Dress rehearsal At least one long run during your training should be a full dress rehearsal, beginning the evening before the long run with a dinner that mimics what you’ll be eating before the race. Practice this tried-and-true dinner, allowing plenty of time (2-3 hours) to digest before falling asleep. Eating increases glucose, metabolic rate, heart rate, and body temp, but the opposite scenario needs to be happening to slide into quality sleep. The morning of the long run, wake up and eat the same foods, quantities, and timing that you plan to implement on race day. Because your glucose will rise and then fall following your meal, avoid consuming foods in the 30-90 minutes before setting out. You can either back up the clock and fuel early before the race or fuel as you run, utilising sports drinks, gels, and whatever fuel source you prefer. After fuelling, begin your run at race start time and test planned nutrition and hydration. Skip the night-before pasta dinner – unless it’s just to socialise You’ll need to top off your dinner place with carbohydrates to complement your pre-race carb load, but it’s best to stick to familiar foods at this important meal. Restaurant food portions can be much larger than you’re used to, sending your glucose spiking and disrupting an important night of sleep. Pre-race “carb loading” has merit, and you can simplify this process by continuing to eat your typical balanced meals the week (days) leading up to your race, making sure there’s high-quality carbs at every meal and snack. While your training tapers, these nutrients that would have been used to fuel your runs will be stored instead. Recovery nutrition at the finish line You’ve strategically fuelled across training and throughout the entire race, but just as you cross the finish line, you’ve got one more stop before the celebration begins. Take a moment for nutritional recovery. Your body is primed to utilise nutrients during the post-race window so take advantage of increased blood flow to muscles. Pack a protein shake in your drop bag at the finish line or ask your supportive fan crew to bring one along. Replenish, recover, and rehydrate with protein and fluids at the finish, then make your way to enjoy a celebratory meal. Bonus tip: Trust your training and HAVE FUN! A final note from Lingo The right nutrition is arguably one of the most important tools in your marathon training kit. And with Lingo, you can peek behind the curtain and know if the fuel you’re using is the right choice for you and your performance goals. Experiment with different sources of energy and lean on Lingo to learn if your nutrition plan is keeping your glucose steady and adequate to fuel your performance. Map out what works; the types, amounts, and timing of nutrients and fluids taken during your run and in the recovery hours. Soon, you’ll have mapped out a failsafe plan for race day.
18 Wellness New Year’s Resolution Ideas for 2024
With the start of a new year around the corner, many people gear up to set their New Year’s resolutions. Not surprisingly, “lose weight” and “get in shape” tend to be at the top of people’s lists each year; a poll from Forbes in October 2023 (1) found that 48% of respondents reported “improved fitness” as their resolution, and 34% reported “lose weight.” While improving your health is an admirable goal to tackle, putting New Year’s resolutions in these vague terms often doesn’t set you up for success. Getting in shape, losing weight, prioritising your health, improving your wellness — these all require a multi-pronged approach that involves setting habits, lifestyle changes, and being consistent. The decision to improve your well-being is the first step, but it’s important to take any New Year’s resolution and put it into the context of goal setting. To achieve your goals, it’s a good idea to map out the actions you’ll need to take. Instead of just promising yourself that you’ll improve your health and well-being in 2024, plan to take concrete steps in the right direction. Below, we’ve outlined some New Year’s resolutions that will benefit your overall well-being as well as tangible tips you can incorporate. Remember: progress is better than perfection, and establishing gradual habits and being consistent will help you achieve your goals. New Year's Resolution Ideas for Wellness and Well-being 1. Move more Whether you are an avid exerciser or just starting to think about getting more activity in your day, setting a goal to move more can be a great way to improve your health (2). Since many adults have desk jobs, they often spend most of their day sitting and not moving much, even if they are regular exercisers. In fact, it’s the movement that you do outside of a formal workout that really adds up to benefit your overall health. (3,4) Finding time to move throughout the day may also help lift your mood and can help keep your glucose steady, which is key for metabolic health and long-term well-being. (5) Studies have shown that even short breaks taken throughout the day to stand up or go on a brief walk can help to keep glucose steady, especially following meals (6). Action ideas: Set a timer on your phone to stand up for at least 5 minutes every hour. Take short, 5-minute walking breaks between meetings. Plan a 10–20-minute walk after lunch. Walk with your partner, family, or friend after dinner — or take the dog for a solo stroll. Take some of your meetings on the phone while walking (outdoors or on a treadmill). Aim to increase your step count by 2,000 – 3,000 per day (7) 2. Choose more whole foods As life gets busy, it can be easy to grab convenience processed foods that are pre-packaged and shelf stable. However, these ultra-processed foods can negatively impact our health and well-being. Not only are they low in nutrients, but they are designed to be highly palatable so that you’ll eat more of them. (8) These processed foods are high in sugar, calories, and other additives that make it tough to stop eating them and recognise our fullness cues, which leads to glucose spikes that affect our mood, energy, and sleep (9). Setting a goal to reduce the amount of ultraprocessed foods you eat can be a great way to prioritise your health for the New Year. Think of ultraprocessed foods as those found in boxes and bags, often have a long shelf life, and usually made with a lot of ingredients, including unfamiliar additives. Some examples are breakfast cereals, pretzels, crisps, sodas, instant noodles, oven pizzas, ready meals, and packaged desserts. Action ideas: Make a grocery list before heading to the store and stick to foods on the perimeter (most ultra-processed foods are found in the centre aisles). Plan a day of the week to meal prep so you always have quick options on hand. Batch cook proteins, vegetables, and whole grains ahead of time to quickly throw together meals. Swap refined grains for whole grains: buy whole-grain bread over white and add items like quinoa and rolled-oats to your diet. Try a new vegetable each week: Find a recipe and try something new to add more variety to your meals. Once you find something you like, you can add it to your regular routine. 3. Reduce stress While setting a goal to “reduce stress” may seem vague, studies have shown that increased stress can impact the way we eat, setting us up for other metabolic and health-related issues. (10) Chronic stress also negatively impacts your well-being in other ways such as interfering with sleep, concentration, and mental health. (11-13) Finding small ways to reduce stress can have a big impact on your overall well-being and may even help keep your glucose steady, which can have a huge impact on things like energy, mood, and cravings. (8) While you can’t erase all stress from your life and there are some things beyond your control, taking some time to unwind and destress each day can lead to major improvements. (14) Action ideas: Set aside 10 minutes to meditate. Look for guided meditations online or with an app. If meditating isn’t for you, try breathing exercises. Research shows that diaphragmatic breathing exercises specifically improve cortisol levels and people report less stress. (15) Spend 20-30 minutes outdoors. Research shows that spending 2 hours weekly in nature (city greenspaces count, too) can improve stress levels. (16) Whether you go for a walk, bike ride, or just sit in the sun (with SPF!), tune in to your environment and appreciate your surroundings. Try a yoga practice, whether a flow at home or a class in a studio. Cultivate gratitude. Each day, write down a few things that you are grateful for. Studies show that people who practice gratitude feel happier and have stronger relationships. (17) 4. Improve sleep quality Sleep is a crucial aspect to our health and well-being, yet it’s the one thing many people sacrifice if they are busy or overwhelmed. It has been shown that getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night is related to a wide range of health complications such diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression, and obesity. (18) Setting a goal to prioritise sleep can be a great way to improve your physical and mental health and has also been shown to be a major factor in glucose stability. (19) Although achieving quality sleep may be easier said than done, you can set yourself up for a restful night with these tips. Action Ideas: Set a reminder on your phone a couple hours before bedtime to start winding down: turn down lights, avoid screens, and take a bath or read a book to help prepare your body for sleep. Finish your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime to give your food time to digest before you lay down. Limit alcohol before bed and swap for a calming beverage like herbal teas or golden milk. Set a bedtime to allow 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and crawl into bed earlier to fall asleep earlier. (20) Check out our guide to sleep better for more ideas. A final note from Lingo As we approach 2024, it’s a perfect time to reflect and set goals for the year to come. Envisioning your future self is a great way to identify the areas you want to focus on. While going into the new year with optimism is a great starting point, it is also important to identify the actions you will take to make that future self a reality. Even though you don’t have to announce your goals to the world, it’s important to have something to keep you personally accountable for what you set out to achieve. Tracking your progress can be a great way to do this, and Lingo’s biosensor can help you track your glucose patterns and encourage healthy choices towards improving your metabolic health and overall well-being.