Category Archives: Nutrition

Caffeine before training?

A lot of athletes down an energy drink before every workout but is that really a good idea? Does caffeine actually enhance your performance? Or are there too many side effects?

Before you decide what to drink, you should know exactly what it is you are putting into your body! Caffeine works by increasing your blood pressure, pulse and stomach acid production. When you drink caffeine, fatty acids are released into your blood stream. This leaves you feeling full of energy.

The full effect of caffeine hits you around 45 to 60 minutes after you drink it. This effect can help you push your body harder during workouts. When you drink caffeine, your body uses through its fuel, glycogen, more slowly. In basic terms, that means that your body is in power saving mode so you will be able to push yourself through longer workouts. On average, caffeine increases you performance by about 10%.

So, how much caffeine is safe to drink? The recommended intake for teens is 100 mg per day while adults can have as much as 250 mg per day. Here’s how the numbers in your favourite drinks add up:

Cup of tea: 11 mg of caffeine

Can of Pepsi: 39 mg of caffeine

Can of Diet Coke: 42 mg of caffeine

Shot of Espresso: 64 mg of caffeine

Can of Red Bull: 80 mg of caffeine

Small coffee before training

There may be almost half of your daily caffeine needs in that tiny coffee! Photo cred: @laurajanedennis

When you are watching your caffeine intake, it is really important to pay attention to serving size. If you order a small coffee, you’ll be getting 110 mg of caffeine. Splurged on a large sized coffee? That is going to be almost 280 mg of caffeine. When you are grabbing a drink, remember that not all cups and cans are created equally! You could be getting four times as much caffeine as you think.

If you are going to have caffeine in a healthy way, you really do need to pay attention to serving sizes. And, even more importantly, it is best to pay attention to your body. Peoples’ caffeine tolerance vary so much! While your friends might be able to gulp down caffeine all day long, you might get a stomach ache from one can of soda. Work with your body, not against it! If you are feeling jittery and your heart is racing, drop your drink and get in the habit of scaling back.

One thing you don’t have to worry about too much is dehydration. The old school idea that caffeine dehydrates you is a myth! Unless you are consuming more than 600 mg of caffeine per day, you won’t be have to worry about dehydration. Of course, as an athlete, you should always make sure that you are regularly sipping on water but having the occasional caffeinated drink isn’t going to do any harm.

So, future Olympians, do what works for you! If you combine a bit of caffeine with a healthy diet and your body doesn’t protest, go for it. Like all things, enjoy in moderation!

Learn to love Protein

Ready to up your game? If you are going to get serious about training, you need to get serious about protein! A healthy diet is the number one factor in getting fit. If you want to start building muscle, protein is your new BFF. Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is protein?

Let’s get technical for just a second. If you are really going to get serious about training, you need to understand how your body works and what it needs. When it comes to building muscle, protein is truly essential. In fact, it is the only nutrient that is directly responsible for building muscles.

By helping to build muscle protein, protein facilitates muscle growth and recovery. The amino acids in protein is what creates the energy that our bodies need for growth. They allow our muscles to rebuild themselves after a rough workout. Without protein, exercise will just leave you exhausted and prone to injury.

How much protein do I need?

Like so many things in life, needs vary from person to person. What you need in your diet totally depends on what you are doing with your body. The average adult needs somewhere around 0.8 grams of protein per day per kilogram of body weight. That means that a 70 kg adult needs around 56 grams of protein.

Because protein is essential for building muscle, you will need around 1.5-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram. If you are focused on endurance, aim for around 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram every day.

How can I get enough protein?

So, now you know how much protein you need. Your next step is to figure out how to meet your dietary needs. It is a serious hassle to sit and count protein (and calories!) every single day so it’s good to get familiar with the protein count in your favourite foods. Here are some of the highest protein foods out there and how much protein you can get per serving:

  • Chicken Breast: 30g Protein
  • Pork Chop: 27g Protein
  • Ground Beef: 26g Protein
  • Swiss Cheese: 25g Protein
  • Lamb Loin: 25g Protein
  • Salmon: 24g Protein
  • Ham: 23g Protein
  • Black Beans: 22g Protein
  • Almonds: 21g Protein
  • Pumpkin Seeds: 19g Protein

Once you know what to eat, it is pretty easy to meet your protein needs. If you are looking to get 60 grams of protein per day, you can meet your needs with just two pieces of chicken breast per day. Unless you are a vegetarian or on a very resisted calorie count, most of us are getting a fairly healthy dose of protein. If you are a vegetarian, you will need to do a bit more planning but it is still very doable if you pay attention.

Chicken tacos

Get half your daily dose of protein with these delicious chicken tacos from @thebitingtruth

Am I eating too much protein?

As always, moderation is key! Eating too much protein puts a much greater strain on your kidneys and can cause dehydration. On top of that, excessive protein intake can cause weight gain. Although there are a lot of healthy high protein foods, protein-rich food tends to be high fat food so keep an eye on your calorie count!

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Image and recipe via @thebitingtruth

Resident dietitians Alex and Anna from the Biting Truth taught us how to make delicious hot cross buns, the perfect treat for the Easter long weekend!

Serves 10 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 10-15 minutes


  • 5-6 medijool dates, chopped finely
  • 3 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup wholegrain oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs (keep 1 to glaze)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, dates and baking powder and stir well.
  3. Add in one egg, honey, vanilla extract, olive oil and 50g of dark chocolate (finely chopped). Stir well to combine.
  4. Slowly add in the milk, to ensure the mix forms a sticky dough texture.
  5. Roll handfuls of the mixture into balls and placed on a baking tray, lined with baking powder
  6. Whisk the second egg in a bowl and using a pastry brush, glaze the top of each bun.
  7. Place in the oven and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes (or until golden).
  8. Melt the remaining chocolate and form crosses on each bun (be careful not to go overboard on the chocolate as it is quite easy to do!).

Check out more delicious and nutritious recipes at

How many do you do?

The perfect post training breakfast

Photo credit @recoveryfortiffany

Welcome to the Breakfast Club! Weet-bix are known to be a great breakfast option as they are high in fibre, low in sugar and fat, and a great source of iron and 6 other essential vitamins and minerals. So we asked some of our AMANZI Girls how many weet-bix they do in the mornings after training.

Aussie AMANZI Swimmer, Calypso Sheridan: 3.

New Zealand Open Water Marathon Swimmer, Penny Hayes: 4.

12 year old Aussie AMANZI Diver, Kennedy Cooper: up to 6 after a big training session!

UK Olympic Swimmers , Georgia Davies and Jessica Lloyd: 2 with a banana on top.


Veggie Athletes

Beautiful fruit and veg via @thebitingtruth

Taste the rainbow! Image via @thebitingtruth

You know what dinosaurs and athletes have in common? They both need meat! Or do they? Even some dinosaurs were vegetarians, and we wouldn’t mess with the long neck dinosaurs.

Dino comparisons aside, there are actually a lot of vegetarian athletes out there believe it or not. Like anything in your diet, changing it to exclude meat completely has huge implications for your athletic performance and lifestyle. If you are determined to go vegetarian, already a vegetarian or just curious about the impacts, we explore the advantages and disadvantages.

The Pros  
People are quick to jump on the offense against vegetarians for some reason, so there are a lot of naysayers out there who say you can’t combine athleticism and vegetarianism. We don’t agree with this perspective.

Just about every expert agrees that with careful planning, a well-balanced and nourishing vegetarian diet is possible. If you are willing to put time and effort to create the veggie lifestyle you desire, then go for it. There are also many creative vegetarian recipes out there, which are delicious and nutritious (Stay tuned to our blog for some ideas)!

Good protein sources include rice, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, the list goes on! You should aim to be incorporating these high protein foods into every meal, as this is essential to athlete recovery.

There are many famous successful vegetarian athletes out there, including US Olympic swimmer, Katie Ziegler. 11 Time Olympic Medalist Natalie Coughlin sticks to a plant based diet, very occasionally eating meat. Tennis champions, Serena and Venus Williams are also famous for being vegans. If they can do it, you can!  Perhaps look further into how they managed to pull off training and going veggie to help supplement your knowledge of vegetarianism.

The Cons
Being a vegetarian isn’t just hard due to the fact you will miss juicy steaks, tender chicken, etc., but it also takes a good deal of time and effort to create a healthy vegetarian diet.

This means you need to know how to get the right amount of protein and nutrients that you normally get from meat, without having meat. You also will probably need to invest in some supplements. Ladies especially need to look out for iron deficiencies from not having meat!

Not to worry our little veggie friends! All of this is possible, but it requires that someone goes into it with an attitude of putting effort into their diet.

Conclusion: Listen to your Body and your Doctor

Due to genetics, environment, etc. – sometimes it is necessary to eat meat.  If this is a new change to your diet consult with a doctor and/or nutritionist to plan out how you are going to do this. Also, be sure to monitor how it is impacting your body, mind and energy levels.


Acai Bowl Bliss

Acai bowl

Acai is a delicious tropical fruit which is all the buzz lately in the health and nutritional world. The sweet tasting and healthy nature of this purple and delicious fruit makes it a great option for those looking to enhance their diets with nutritional foods. Acai fruit is known to promote healthy skin, aid weight loss, improve cardiovascular health, reduce cancer risk and increase cell health. All in all it packs a strong punch of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals making it well-worth incorporating into your diet.

So you may be wondering, what is an “acai bowl” anyways?. When I first heard about it I imagined myself building a bowl out of tiny berries, but it actually isn’t a berry mosaic. An acai bowl is simply a blend of acai served in a bowl. You add into it your favorite toppings. The result is a thick and creamy ice cream like experience, but it is actually really great for you. If you are looking for a chilly treat this is a great way to satiate the sweet tooth without breaking your diet.

Acai bowls do require some clean up and prep, so this is more of a recipe to make when you have time to cook up a treat in the kitchen. But we can promise the work is worth it! Without further ado, let’s get onto those acai bowl instructions as promised.

How To Make an Acai Bowl

1. Start with an Acai smoothie

Whatever method you prefer to make an acai smoothie, go ahead and do so. You can buy smoothie packs or use the actual acai root to make a smoothie. For the purpose of speed, we recommend just using the smoothie packs to hurry up the process. For the smoothie you can add in your favorite ingredients to smoothies like bananas, coconut milk, yogurt, chia seeds, or whatever you want to enhance the flavour.

2. Get the perfect frosty texture
Either add more liquid or more substances to thicken or thin the smoothie’s texture. You want it to be thick enough to eat with a spoon! To thicken it you can add bananas or yogurt, and make sure not to overdo it with any of the liquids that you add to the smoothie. Make sure to add in ice or frozen berries to make it an extra refreshing treat!

3. Put It In A Bowl

Once the acai is thick enough, you’ll want to spoon it out into a bowl. You can put it into a cold bowl to help slow the melting process of the acai smoothing and add cold ingredients at the bottom to reduce the amount of surface area of the smoothie that is exposed to warmer temperatures. Pro Tip: You want to have you toppings ready before this process, so that your acai bowl doesn’t melt while you’re getting your topping ready.

4. Add your toppings

Finally you can add on all the toppings you want to personalize your acai bowl. Add on nuts, coconut flakes, chocolate, fruit, peanut butter or whatever may strike your fancy. Get creative! Try to add on something crunchy to add some nice texture into your acai bowl. It is like an ice-cream sundae without any of the guilt!



5 Easy Ways to make a Bag of Nuts Gourmet

Photo by DewFrame / CC BY

Photo by DewFrame / CC BY

Bags of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc are a quick, easy and healthy snack for any swimmer or athlete. It provides a huge calorie kick with healthy fats and fibers that can keep us full without overfilling our stomachs. The only problem with this perfect snack is that it can get really boring, really fast. The following are simple ingredients that you can add to a bag of nuts to make it a lot tastier. Keep in mind some of these ingredients could interact poorly with your stomach, so make sure to just test out with a little bit of the ingredient first to make sure you don’t end up with an upset stomach.

1. Sprinkle with Cayenne
If you love spicy food, cayenne is the perfect spice to add a bit of heat to any snack. It also just happens to be really good for you, and you can read about it here. Just add a sprinkle to your bag of nuts then shake it around. Make sure to not add too much, because a little bit of cayenne goes a long way. Start with just a pinch of cayenne then add more to match your spice preferences.

2. A Splash of Hot Sauce
This is another option for people who love spicy food. Hot sauce contains capsaicin (belonging to the genus Capsicum), a natural appetite suppressant. If you find yourself hungry during practices or workouts, this may be a great way to stave off the hunger pangs. Just add a dash or two to bag of nuts then shake it around. Make sure not to overdo it, because hot sauce is also high in sodium. Just a dash or two is enough to pump of the flavor of any type of nut.

3. Roast in Olive Oil
Olive oil contains healthy fatty acids along with hormones that help promote brain cell health. You can roast the nuts in olive oil before putting them into the bag. Make sure that you let the nuts cool before putting them into the bag, so you don’t end up melting the plastic! Or you can just drizzle some olive oil on top of the nuts before putting them into the bag. Make sure not to overdo it, because a little bit of olive oil has a lot of calories and fat.

4. Add Wasabi Peas
If you love wasabi (the green hot paste that comes on the side of sushi) you’ll just love wasabi peas. These little crunchy snacks are high in calories and fiber. Just add a small handful of wasabi into your bag of nuts to add a bit of heat and extra flavor. Make sure not to overdo it, because wasabi peas can have a lot of extra sugar and salt.

5. Drizzle with Buckwheat Honey
Honey is obviously a sticky ingredient, but if you have a sweet tooth it is a healthy way to satiate your sugar lust before a workout. Due to the stickiness it may be wise to pack a napkin with your snack. Buckwheat honey provides sugar and antioxidants to help energize and maintain your body, and just FYI, buckwheat honey tends to be better for you than lighter honeys. Just drizzle a tablespoon or less of buckwheat honey evenly over the nuts in a bowl. Mix it with a spoon until the honey evenly covers the nuts. Then put the nuts in the bag for a sweet snack on the go.

Whey Protein: 3 Benefits for Hardcore Swimmers

After a strenuous swimming session, your body is starving for nutrients. You probably have an aching, gnawing hunger in your stomach, and nothing but good eats on your mind. This is totally normal! However, satisfying this growling beast is harder than simply grabbing a cheeseburger from McDonalds. You need something good for you – something that will fuel your body while feeding your muscles and restoring functional calories. It also helps if your prospective meal is delicious!

Ask any hardcore athlete about nutrition and the one thing they agree on is protein after swimming or any other arduous training session is beneficial. So here are 3 benefits of Whey Protein for Hardcore Swimmers:

1. Whey Protein builds lean body mass.

Most swimmers bodies are compact and lean with condensed muscles that glide effortlessly through the water. Whey Protein sends bioactive peptides and useful amino acids to fatigued muscles, building them back up to be stronger and better than they were previously.

2. Whey Protein feeds your hunger.

Remember what we said about being ravenously hungry after a sweat-drenched workout? Whey Protein can help this! Protein is exactly what your body needs to stop hunger and completely satisfy any niggling cravings you might have incurred during training. You will feel fuller for longer simply by adding Whey Protein to a healthy shake after a rigorous swimming session.

3. Whey Protein comes in a variety of awesome flavors

Personally, we think Whey Protein tastes tons better when chocolate or strawberry have been added for a kick of awesome flavor. However, there is also a plain powder that is perfect sprinkled over or within your favorite foods. You can add a kick of protein to almost anything – but if you’re a flavor-enthusiast, look for different selections that tantalize your taste-buds while providing those aforementioned benefits.