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Muscle Cramps: Causes & Treatment
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Muscle Cramps: Causes & Treatment

Muscle cramps are powerful, involuntary, painful spasms of a muscle. They occur most commonly in the calf, hamstring or foot. Whilst cramps most often fix themselves after a few moments as the muscle relaxes, many people have regular, recurring cramps. Regular cramping can be a sign of an underlying disease or ongoing nutritional deficiency. Rest assured if you cramp regularly,  your condition may be treated using the below tips.  

What causes muscle cramps?

The definitive cause of the muscle spasms we call 'cramps' are not fully understood. Muscle spasms are usually a sign that the cramping muscle is under excess stress, heat or lacking key nutrients. If you are cramping regularly, there could be a number of contributing factors:
  • poor physical fitness
  • tight muscles or lack of flexibility
  • inadequate diet / nutritional intake
  • genetic factors
  • excessive perspiration / dehydration
  • muscular fatigue or injury
  • shortage of key vitamins and minerals for muscle health (minerals critical for muscle function are calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Other studies suggest that vitamin B, C, D and E shortages may also be indicated )
  • disease or prescription medications
Any or all of the above factors can lead to irregular muscle function, which increases the chance of spasm / cramp.  

How do I avoid muscle cramps?

In looking at the above risk factors, you can reduce your risk of cramping by trying the following tips:
  • Maintain your fitness.
  • Stretch regularly. 5 minutes of gentle stretching on the floor during a TV ad break each evening can be sufficient to drastically improve flexibility. Hold each stretch so that you are straining but not feeling pain, and release after 30 seconds.
  • Ensure you are getting the right minerals to maintain proper muscle function. Eating a varied diet is the best way to get a range of minerals. Cacao is a rich natural source of magnesium.
  • Try a supplement. Getting your RDI of some minerals is tough to do from food alone (adult women, for example, need 1300mg of calcium each day. That's more than 4 glasses of milk). If you think you are struggling to get enough nutrients into your diet to stop cramping, you may benefit from taking a multivitamin that contains magnesium and nutrients to aid muscle relaxation or:
  •  Incorporate a Magnesium powder sourced from wholefoods (more readily absorbed by the body than tablets) OR Cacao Powder (cacao is rich in magnesium and potassium). It is possible to have too much magnesium, yet the side effects at the upper limit of recommended daily magneisum intake have not been shown to produce toxic effects when ingested as naturally occurring magnesium in food (according to nrv.gov.au) as contrasted against magnesium tablets.
  • Try a Calcium Supplement OR Chia Seeds (chia seeds are incredibly rich in calcium, critical for muscles).
  • Ensure you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day, especially before, during and after periods of physical exertion. Drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up in the morning to top up any fluids lost during sleep.
  • Know your exercise boundaries. In hot / humid conditions, take it easy to avoid excessive perspiration.
  • If muscle cramps persist despite trying the above, see your doctor. Genetic factors, diseases such as atherosclerosis or sciatica or some prescription medications may be contributing.
 

Quick, I'm cramping! Help me!

We usually don't spare muscle cramps a second thought until the muscle is already spasming and we are clutching the effected limb in agony. Use the below tips to shorten the severity and duration of cramps.
  • Gently stretch the muscle that is cramping
  • Massaging the muscle (provided doing so is not too painful) can help increase blood flow to the area and relax the muscle.
  • Apply an ice pack to cool  down overheated muscles.
  • Take a rest after the cramp has subsided. A cramp is your muscle crying out for help. Taking a rest will help the muscle relax and can help ensure it doesn't immediately recur.
 
Superfoods for Healthy Joints
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Superfoods for Healthy Joints

Natural joint health supplements like krill oil and glucosamine have well documented benefits for supporting healthy joints, and pharmaceutical / prescription drugs can be obtained from your doctor to help with arthritis and joint pain. However, your lifestyle and the food you eat  can also have a significant effect on joint health. Try these superfoods for arthritis and maintaining joint health.

CAMU CAMU

A fine powder derived from an Amazonian fruit, Camu Camu has impressive antioxidant properties and can be a great anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories cab be beneficial for arthritis sufferers, as the joint pain felt is often the result of swelling and  inflammation around the joint. Reducing inflammation, therefore, often means reducing pain. Further, Camu Camu is rich in vitamin C – vitamin C is critical for a number of bodily functions including production of collagen. Collagen is required for growing, healing and repairing tissue and cartilage.

CHIA SEEDS

Chia Seeds are rich in fibre, protein and – importantly – omega-3 fatty acids. Ensuring you have sufficient intake of Omega-3s is important for joints and the link between omega-3 intake and joint health is documented. If you aren’t eating fatty fish such as salmon or tuna 3 times a week, you should be trying to increase your daily omega-3 intake by:
  1. taking a Krill Oil tablet daily or
  2. including vegetable sources of omega-3 like chia seeds into your diet. Need some inspiration on how  to eat more chia? Check out our Chia Seed recipes.

TURMERIC

You may be familiar with turmeric as a spice used in curries and stir fries. You may not realise that it is actually a superfood that contains a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient called curcumin. Adding enough turmeric to your meals each day to achieve the full anti-inflammatory effect might not be feasible, but there are an increasing number of juice bars around that offer turmeric in their products that can help you increase your turmeric / curcumin intake. Alternatively, try Osteo Flex – it contains clinically studied levels of curcumin so you can be sure you are getting sufficient dosage. It also contains additional joint care ingredients Krill Oil and Green Lipped Mussel.   ---------- This article was provided by our online partner Health365. To buy superfoods online, visit www.health365.com.au.        
5 Benefits of CoQ10
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5 Benefits of CoQ10

CoQ10 (co-enzyme Q10) is a substance found in our body that is ..
Instant Natural Protein - Chocolate
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Instant Natural Protein - Chocolate

Instant Natural Protein (Chocolate Flavour) is a delicious way to get your daily protein needs and to support a healthy, active lifestyle. It is reduced in fat and contains no animal products, making it an ideal, great tasting protein food supplement for anyone from older children to adults. INSTANT NATURAL PROTEIN. EVERY BODY. EVERY AGE. EVERY DAY
Introducing CoQ10
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Introducing CoQ10

Famous for heart health, more recently used for athletic performance.
Why We Need Magnesium
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Why We Need Magnesium

The Importance of Magnesium For Health

Magnesium is abundantly available in a range of foods, as well as in supplement form. It is critical for maintaining a huge range of biochemical reactions in the body. It is particularly important for:
  • protein synthesis
  • proper muscle function, relaxation and contraction
  • nerve health
  • cardiovascular health
  • maintaining bone health
  • energy production
  • the list could go on and on.

How Much Magnesium Do I Need?

The Australian Government National health & Medical Research Council recommends the following RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) for magnesium: Male Adults: 330-350mg a day Female Adults: 255-265mg a day

Magnesium Deficiency

Measuring the exact level of magnesium in each person's body is difficult. This is because much of the magnesium that exists in your body is in your bones or cells, not in your blood. This difficulty in measuring magnesium levels can make magnesium inadequacy difficult to diagnose via usual tests. However, common signs of a magnesium deficiency include:
  • fatigue
  • agitation / restlessness
  • anxiety
  • nausea
  • tingling in joints and extremities
  • muscle cramping and spasms
  • poor nail / hair health
Studies also suggest sufficient magnesium intake is linked to cardiovascular health, maintaining brain function, helping with migraines and lack of magnesium may contribute to symptoms of low mood.

Best Magnesium Sources

Magnesium is abundantly available in a number of foods. Some of these foods include:
  • Super Cacao is completely organic and rich in magnesium. Try including it in some of our delicious Cacao recipes.
  • WholeFood Magnesium Powder features natural magnesium and is in an easily absorbed powder form. Most magnesium tablets contain synthetic magnesium compounds created in factories. Tablets are not as easily absorbed.
  • dark leafy greens (eg/ raw spinach)
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains like brown rice
------ This article was provided by our online partner Health365. For more information on which electrolytes we need to maintain health, visit www.health365.com.au.    
Training tips to avoid joint damage.
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Training tips to avoid joint damage.

Whether you are already feeling the onset of sore / stiff joints, have early arthritis symptoms are are just trying to avoid joint pain as you age, there are some simple things you can do to protect your joints and limit further damage and inflammation during exercise.  
  1. Learn to lift

Whether it be in the gym, at the workplace or around the house, you need to learn how to lift heavy objects safely. Learning to lift heavy objects appropriately can not only save your back, but it can also save your joints. For heavy objects that are placed on the ground, squat down and lift with your legs rather than your back. If you feel strain or pressure in your knees or hips, stop and ask someone for help. When carrying heavy objects, hold them close to your body so your core takes the pressure rather than elbow and shoulder joints.  
  1. Recognise over-use

Suffering joint pain after prolonged use? Chances are you may be suffering a minor joint injury or an over-use injury. With injury, the fluids and cartilage that protect the joint can become damaged. This, in turn, can allow the bones to rub against each other and further injure the joint. If you have unexpected / sudden joint pain, try to limit use and see a health professional as soon as possible. Continuing to use an injured joint can make the injury worse and may cause permanent or more severe damage.  
  1. Stay trim, stay strong

Retaining a healthy body weight is important to protect your joints. Each kilogram you lose means up to 4 kilograms less pressure on your knees, hips and ankles as you walk... lose 12 kilograms and that’s nearly 50 kilos less pressure! Furthermore, focusing on maintaining strength through regular exercise or resistance training can help stabilise joints, meaning less wear and tear and lower chance of injury.  
  1. Go for low impact exercises

Exercise has so many critical benefits for our health, and it would be a shame to let sore joints or arthritis stop us from enjoying those benefits. However, exercise can often be damaging to joints: we have already mentioned that walking adds 4 kilograms of pressure per kilogram of body weight to our joints. Running adds an extra 10 kilograms of joint pressure per kilogram of body weight! The more pressure we place on a  joint, the more wear and tear we get on the protective tissues in the joint. The more damage to  the protective tissues, the greater the chance of permanent damage and arthritis. Low impact exercises like pilates or cycling can be more friendly for joints... see our article on exercises for arthritis sufferers for more ideas of low-impact exercises to help protect your joints.  
  1. Feed your joints

There are two nutrients that actually feed your joints and help your body grow and repair connective tissues in the joints. Glucosamine and Chondroitin work well in tandem to actively feed your joints and promote cartilage health... cartilage is critical for protecting your joint and acting as a shock absorber. ------- This article was provided by our online partner Health365. For more information on dealing with arthritis, visit www.health365.com.au.    
Lift Heavy To Get Lean
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Lift Heavy To Get Lean

Many women (and men) exercise to lose weight and get toned. After ..
Figure Protein (Vanilla)
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Figure Protein (Vanilla)

Figure Protein is formulated for active women that are looking for a good source of protein to help support wellbeing and vitality! Containing iron, chromium, probiotics, folate, calcium and vitamin D, Figure Protein is the protein supplement to help support active women!