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!

Top 5 Swim Apps

Just because you can’t take your phone into the water doesn’t mean that you can’t use your phone to take your swimming to the next level. Check out these five amazing swim apps that will take you where you want to go!

SwimPB: This is a great app for keeping you motivated. Swim PB maintains a historical record of all of your swim times. The app creates lists of your current personal best times for every event. If you are looking for a simple, straightforward app to record all of your times or maintain your swim team’s records, this is exactly what you need.

GoSwim: Go Swim is home to all things swim related. Get free training videos alongside weekly inspirational pics and articles, as well as swimming news from around the world. Go Swim has a great fan wall where you can chat with other swimmers to share tips and tricks or just enjoy a good read.  Go Swim’s Twitter feed is home to a current and constant stream of international sporting news.

AMANZI Triathlete Charlotte Durand

Improve your stroke with the advice of the best coaches out there. Photo credit @chardurand

Swim Coach Plus: This isn’t your grandma’s swim coach! If you are looking to improve your technique, this is the place to go. Whether you are a beginner or on your way to the Olympics, Swim Coach Plus HD is a powerful tool. Its video features basically bring the best coaches in the world to your pool so that you can get exactly the feedback that you need. Record your moves, get feedback, watch the best swimmers in action and master your technique!

Active Goals: This app from the ACTIVE Network is designed for runners, cyclists, swimmers and triathletes. You can log all of your workouts and meet other swimmers from around the globe. Set goals for yourself then track your progress. Active Goals has a gorgeous array of graphs and lists that will keep your motivated.

Meet Mobile:  Another great tool from the ACTIVE Network, Meet Mobile will give you all of the swim meet info that you will ever need. No matter how big or small the event, you can get real-time results alongside all of the latest info on your favourite swimmers and upcoming local meets.


The Amazing Benefits of Stand-Up Paddling         

Looking for a way to mix up your routine? For an ultra-fun way to burn some calories and get in shape, you have got to try stand-up paddling! It is the perfect way to improve your strength and balance while enjoying the water.

Stand-up padding works just about every single muscle in your body. Because stand-up paddling is all about balance, your leg and core muscles will be working hard to keep you in place. This will help you develop a better sense of balance, which is a major perk in each and every sport. Although you might have a few falls into the water when you first get going, you will develop perfect balance in no time.

AMANZI Girl Charlie

AMANZI Girl Charlie has mastered the art of SUPing. Photo cred: @charliemuttdon

It might not seem like it at first glance but stand-up paddle boarding is a full body workout. While your core and legs keep you stable on the board, the muscles of your back, arms and shoulders will be pushing to propel your paddleboard through the water. You can vary the intensity of your workout by going into a wavy ocean or drifting along through calm seas.

Another major perk of stand-up padding is that it is low impact. You can get an amazing workout with basically no wear and tear on the tendons and ligaments of your joints. Your risk of injury while stand-up paddling is very low. In fact, it is a great workout to do if you have already been injured and need a low impact way to workout.

BUT just because it is a low impact sport doesn’t mean that it won’t seriously kick your butt! Stand-up paddling packs a serious punch and will give you amazing cardiovascular benefits while burning tons of calories.

It is very easy to start stand-up paddling. All you need to do is find a place to hire supplies. If you are a totally newbie to the world of board sports, you will want to choose a wide, long, thick board. The more substantial your board is, the more stable it will be when you take it out on the open water. When you become more experienced, you can use progressively smaller boards. As far as paddles go, look for a paddle that is approximately six to ten inches taller than you.

Once you have your equipment, you are ready to go! Most equipment hire places will give you a quick tutorial on how to get the right technique going and that’s all you need. Ultimately, it is all about balancing yourself so you can easily learn stand-up paddling on your own with a bit of practice.

Happy paddling!


What is TRX? Can It Really Help with My Training?

How would you like to have a workout routine designed by Navy SEALs that is cost effective, versatile, portable, durable and easy to get started with? Let me introduce you to TRX! It is the latest fitness craze that is producing real results.

Forget about silly gimmicks. TRX training is based on the latest scientific research on fitness as well as ideas taken from the military, pro sports and academic institutions. It uses your own body weight and gravity to make your workouts intense. By simply adjusting your body, you can increase or decrease the difficulty level. The best news about this is that you can keep the same gear for ages without outgrowing it as your fitness level advances.

AMANZI Girl Corrie pumping out chin-ups

No more boring chin-ups, mix it up with TRX training! Photo cred: @corriescott1

You can go for high speed workouts or slow, strength-building moves. It is all up to you! That is why so many top level trainers and athletes are obsessed with TRX. You can build strength with every movement while engaging your core the entire time for a full body workout.

The TRX suspension training system will totally transform your workout. Using gravity and your own body weight, you can perform hundreds of different exercise with a single piece of gear! To up your game even further, go for The Rip Trainer. It will add hundreds more exercises to your routine for high speed striking movements or slow speed strength and stability exercises.

I know it sounds too good to be true and it almost is. But, like so many of the best things in life, it will win you over with its simplicity. While it is flawlessly engineered, it is also incredibly easy to use. You can take it with you anywhere and spend years learning new exercises. There are also plenty of gyms around who have the equipment and offer fun group TRX classes or personal training sessions incorporating TRX training. For those of us who get bored with workouts easily, this is a real game changer. So, what are you waiting for?

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!

Please welcome Helena Gasson!

We are very excited to welcome New Zealand swimmer, Helena Gasson, to the AMANZI Girls team.

AMANZI Girl Helena Gasson

Helena has been swimming at a national level since she was 9 and now at just 21, holds two New Zealand National records.

The 2015 reigning champion in the 100m and 200m Butterfly, as well as 200m and 400m Individual Medley, improved once again in 2016, finishing with two national records and three national titles. Helena broke the New Zealand record for the 100m Butterfly, as well as improving upon her own New Zealand record in the 200m Butterfly heats.

After such amazing results and times at New Zealand Olympic Trials, Helena qualified to represent New Zealand in the 100m Butterfly at this year’s Rio Olympics.

But Rio will just be the start of more to come, with Helena’s eyes set on the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

We can’t wait to support Helena every step of the way on her road to Rio and beyond.

2016 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama

AMANZI Girl Laura Lindemann

AMANZI Girl Laura Lindemann finishing 10th over the weekend

The World Triathlon Series headed to Yokohama this weekend for the fourth race of the season and more importantly the last chance to qualify for the Rio Olympics for many of our AMANZI Girls. A huge congratulations to Canadian AMANZI Girl Amelie Kretz finishing 8th in a career best performance.

8th – Amelie Kretz

10th – Laura Lindemann

41st – Zsofia Kovacs

45th – Erin Jones

49th – Gillian Sanders

Congratulations to all girls who have already qualified for Rio and best wishes to all the girls patiently awaiting the decision from their relevant Triathlon Federation.

Goal Digger: How to Realise your Goals in 2016

AMANZI Girl Jodie Duff

Whatever your goals are, you CAN achieve them! Whether you want to push yourself to get in the pool every single morning or just manage your time better, there are a few simple steps that work for any objective you might have. Here is how to get started with any goal, no matter how big or small.

Step one: Create a real target

What is it that you really want? Be specific. Think about something that you can measure. Don’t just declare that you will “get fit” or “stop wasting time.” Break down your goals into smaller pieces that you can monitor on a daily basis. If you want to start using your time better, make a goal to use a planner each day. The more detailed that your plan is, the more likely that you are to achieve it. Forget about the big picture and think about what your real goal looks like every day.

Step two: Spread the word

Tell other people about your goals so that you can get support and encouragement. Ask for help to resist temptation. Don’t be shy! This is what friends and families are for. Spread the word. Everything in life is easier with a bit of help. Find others who share your goals, whether it is your best friend or an online support network. The more accountability and support that you have to meet your objective, the easier it will be so don’t try to go it alone!

Step three: Incorporate it into your daily life

Ultimately, everything comes down to your daily routine. All of your successes and failures in life will always hinge on what you do on a daily basis. Figure out what it is exactly that you need to do every day to meet your goal. If you want to become a better swimmer, what do you need to do each day? Make it realistic and achievable. Take a hard look at your daily routine and see what you can tweak. Find a way to make your goal part of real life.

Step four: Accept setbacks

It is important to recognise the difference between a failure and a setback. A setback is when you don’t meet your daily goal. A failure is when you stop trying. It is too easy to get into an all-or-nothing mentality and that has been the downfall of too many people. Make a commitment to stick to it, no matter what! If you find yourself struggling, start over at step one.



5 Tips for the Perfect Night’s Sleep

AMANZI Girl Laura Dennis

AMANZI Girl Laura ready for bed? Photo cred @laurajanedennis

Want the secret to a healthy, happy life? Sleep! Sleeping is one of the best things that you can do for your body. Here are a few things that you can do to get the perfect night’s sleep.

  1. Always wake up at the same time. Keeping a consistent schedule can make all of the difference! Of course, sometimes life gets in the way but there is a lot that you can do to keep yourself on track. Don’t sacrifice sleep for a few extra minutes of staring at a screen and forget about trying to make up for lost time over the weekend. Keep on track every night.
  2. Only go to bed when you’re tired. Don’t waste too much time lounging around. If you can’t sleep after 30 minutes, get up. If you have a TV in your bedroom, get it out of there. Make your bedroom into a sanctuary for sleep so that your brain automatically makes the association and you feel ready to relax as soon as you walk in the door. Do whatever you can to make your bedroom a restful place. Invest in nice blankets, pillows and whatever other creature comforts make your time in the bedroom a little more enjoyable.
  3. Create a routine. Start preparing for bed one hour in advance. If you are running around the house until the moment your head hits the pillow, it will be hard to get to sleep. You need to slowly unwind. Get into the habit of shutting everything down an hour before bed. If you haven’t been able to finish it by that time, it can wait until morning. Follow your routine everyday of the week- including weekends! It may be a hard transition but it’s worth it. You will quickly find that getting enough sleep during the week means that you don’t need more sleep at the weekend and your cravings for it will slowly fade.
  4. Turn off the lights. Bright lights are incredibly disruptive. It is important to turn off all of your screens at least an hour before you plan to sleep and recreate the most relaxing environment possible. Get into the habit of reading real books rather than looking at your computer or TV. If you absolutely must be in front of a screen before bed, get a filter that blocks blue light. There are tons of apps out there that will do that for you and it can make a huge difference in your sleep quality.
  5. Put your body into neutral. Close off the kitchen. It’s better not to eat or drink anything too close to bedroom time. This is doubly true for alcohol and caffeine. While it might feel like a drink or two helps you sleep better, the opposite is actually true. Having alcohol in your system actually disturbs your sleeping patterns. The same is true for evening exercise. Like caffeine, the later you exercise, the more it wakes you up. Try to hit the gym in the morning or before dinner for the best night’s sleep. Your goal is to avoid having too much of anything in the hours leading up to sleep.

5 Reasons Sports Are Great for Girls

AMANZI Girls Reef and Tanya

AMANZI Girls Reef and Tanya. Photo credit @reefrodhe

Looking for another excuse to get your daughter involved in sports? Whether it is swimming or softball or soccer or sailing, sports are great for girls! From head to toe, there are countless benefits for athletic girls. While we have always been encouraging our boys to get out on the field, it is just as important to keep our daughters moving. Here are the top five reasons why every girl needs to fall in love with her own sport.

  1. Sporty girls do better in school. While you might think that sports are cutting into study time, there is still a major net benefit at the end of day. Young girls who play sports are much more likely to graduate than those who just spend their time hanging out with friends. In fact, regular exercise actually helps to improve your memory and concentration. These major mental perks translate to better grades. Girls who play sports are more alert in the classroom.
  1. Athletic girls learn valuable life skills. Being able to work as part of a team and set goals for yourself are major keys to a successful life. By working as part of a team and learning how to utilise advice from trainers and coaches, kids are better able to learn what it takes to be successful. These skills can give sporty girls a major head start when it comes to learning essential workplace skills.
  1. Active kids are much better at dealing with stress. School is a stressful business. Between exams, planning for university and just dealing with all the craziness of being a kid, life can get you down. Sports can change everything. Being active is a mood booster. Regardless of what sport she plays, activity helps to prevent stress and depression. On top of that, team sports can create essential bonds that will keep her feeling sane. Even if she goes for a solo sport, she will feel calmer after getting her blood pumping.
  1. Sports-loving ladies are more confident. Playing sports makes girls feel better about themselves. Athletic girls are more confident and better adjusted socially. Having a skill of any kind can totally transform a girl’s self-esteem. The network that is created through a team and supportive network makes girls feel like they have a role in life and supportive network.
  1. Fit girls are healthier. Any movement is always a good thing. While it is great to have low-key hobbies like playing the piano or to have lazy afternoons of just sitting around with friends and eating pizza, it is important to get into the habit of being physical on a daily basis. Girls who play sports are consistently found to be healthier than those who don’t play sports. Athletic girls are significantly less likely to smoke and are more much likely to maintain a healthy weight. And, even more importantly, these habits are likely to stick around. By keeping girls active when they are young and helping them to develop athletic skills, you can help them develop healthy habits that will last for a lifetime.