Top 5 Brain Boosting Foods

Do you ever feel tired during the day? Are you constantly wishing it was 5 o clock already? Do your eyes begin to close during meetings? We all know the feeling! Good news — there are foods we can consume that will naturally boost our energy levels and help you feeling alert all day!First on the list is coconut oil. Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, if you are into your sports you may have heard of MCT oil. These fatty acids help your body burn fat for energy in a quick 3-step process —compared with a 20+ step process for other oils such as olive oil. An easy way to incorporate coconut oil into your work life is to add it to a smoothie and drink before your day begins or to cook something delicious the night before work using coconut oil and pack it for lunch — perhaps a stir fry!

Green leafy vegetables are definitely something we should all start adding to our diets if we want energy! Some examples include spinach and kale, they are loaded with chlorophyll known for giving plants their green colour, being alkaline they help reduce acidity in our bodies which has been shown to reduce energy levels. These green veggies are also packed with the mineral magnesium which is involved in energy production — pretty important I’d say!
Next up are on our energy-boosting list are chia seeds are also known as ‘warrior food’ or ‘runner food’. They are packed with protein and omega 3 fatty acids — impressively your body can turn these fatty acids into energy! Triathletes are known to snack on coconut oil blended with chia seeds and raw honey whilst they are training — chia seeds must be doing something right!

Fruit glorious fruit. Fruit in moderation will raise our energy levels, the perfect amount is 1-2 portions a day, for example, some blueberries on our breakfast and a banana at lunch is spot on. Fruit is full of simple carbohydrates (sugars) which goes right from your gut into your bloodstream and gives you energy unlike complex carbohydrates such as pasta which take a while to be converted into energy. Too much fruit will zap your energy levels as your body will have a sugar overload! Some fruits such as bananas, mango, papaya and blueberries contain the mineral potassium that helps hydrate your entire body — important because dehydration causes lethargy and weakness.
Adaptogens are herbs that help your body better deal with stress. They have also been known to help with thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue and other conditions related to low energy. Some to try are; Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Ginseng.

If you want more energy, incorporating these foods into your diet is a great place to start as research shows that the type and quantity of food we eat definitely plays an essential role in determining our energy levels throughout the day.

There is perhaps no piece of equipment more synonymous with the gym than the dumbbell. Depending on how many times you've done arm day, you may have a certain amount of familiarity with these ubiquitous little blighters. You may find them terrifying and you may just be growing a bit bored with them and want to find some new ways to make the most of them.Either way, we get it: sometimes the simplest piece of equipment presents the greatest riddle of how to optimise usage and sometimes the best workout can get a little repetitive. If you're looking for some inspiration at either end of the spectrum, have no fear. GQ have found out exactly how to change it up.As per, we spoke to some of the greatest minds in British fitness to find out how to switch it up. Their recommendations range from dumbbell 101 to workouts that will push you to your limit.

Kate Maxley, strength and conditioning master trainer at Third Space

Exercise one: Dumbbell push press

An underrated exercise that is thought to work just your upper body, however go heavy on your press and feel your whole body burn. Trust yourself to pick challenging weights and get your poker face at the ready.Begin with weights on shoulders (before moving them anywhere get your set up right). Cushion your knees (slight bend) and squeeze your glutes. Using your legs to help the movement drive weights over your head, get your biceps to your ear so the weights finish directly above your head, not in front of your forehead. Resist gravity and lower the dumbbells slowly down to your shoulders and reset ready for the next rep.Top tip: If you can’t feel your abs working, try doing some ab activation (plank/bear crawls) to fire up your core.

Exercise two: Walking lunges

Use dumbbells or kettlebells for this one, a secret cardio burner. Aim for teb reps minimum each side. This can also be done on the spot, but adding a travel to the lunge will challenge your balance and creep your heart rate up a little further.Keeping kettlebells or dumbbells by your side at all time, keep your shoulders rotated backwards to engage your back muscles. Step forward, creating a 90-degree angle at both your knees, get your back knee as close to the ground as you can and drive out of that lunge, stand tall and then step forward with the next leg.Top tip: Superset a smaller muscle group (upper body) with these to keep your heart rate elevated and increase the burn.

Exercise three: Dumbbell renegade rows

A stability killer, while creating the strongest back you have ever had and strengthening your core. Using two dumbbells, begin in a plank position with your hands on the dumbbells, keeping shoulders directly in line with your hands, balancing on your toes. Ensure you can keep a straight line from the back of your head to your heels. If struggling to balance, drop to your knees but keep the “straight line” from the back of your head to your knees. Squeeze your shoulders down towards your heels; don’t let your hips drop. Drive one dumbbell towards your waist, keeping your elbow in line with your back as you bring the dumbbell up. Slowly return the dumbbells back to the floor, underneath shoulders and continue on the other side.Top tip: Keep your hips still so they don’t move side to side, to help take your feet wider to give you more stability.

Alistair Toovey, kickboxing instructor at Flykick

Exercise one: Dumbbell deadlift

With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath, squeeze your abs and glutes – now you are braced and ready to move. Breaking at the hips, send your bum back as you slowly lower your chest towards the floor. Don’t let the dumbbells swing out over your toes, keep them close to your body as you descend. You want a very slight bend in the knees as you lower the weights, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings. Once the dumbbells reach the mid-shin position you can reverse the movement and come back up to standing to repeat. It’s important to keep a neutral spine throughout this movement. Use a mirror to keep an eye on your form, ensuring you’re back does not round over.

Exercise two: Dumbbell hang power clean

With a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath, squeeze your abs and glutes – now you are braced and ready to move. Bend through your knees so that you load your quad muscles as you are now going to stand up explosively and pull the dumbbells straight up to finish on top of your shoulders, with your elbows stacked underneath to support them. Try not to swing the dumbbells out in front you as they travel from your hips to shoulders. Imagine there is a pane of glass in front of you – you don’t want to smash it! Draw the dumbbells straight up the line of your body with a big shrug of your traps. Lower them with control to the hips and repeat.

Exercise three: Dumbbell push press

Holding a dumbbell on top of each shoulder with your elbows stacked underneath to support them, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath, squeeze your abs and glutes – now you are braced and ready to move. Bend through your knees so that you load your quad muscles as you are now going to stand up explosively and push the dumbbells directly overhead. When they are overhead you want your arms to be close to your ears so that the dumbbells are directly over your centre of gravity. Squeeze your abs and glutes so that your lower back doesn’t bend, keeping your rib cage from rising. Lower them with control to the shoulders and repeat. This movement is all about recruiting the powerful muscles of the lower body to assist the upper body. This enables us to lift heavier weights than if we only used our arms.

How to build these into a workout

This is a great workout that you need minimal space for – just two moderately heavy dumbbells will do the trick. You are going to perform ten deadlifts, ten hang power cleans and ten push presses. Then nine of each movement, eight of each movement etc… until you finish one of each. This workout is designed to build your strength from the ground up. It is a full-body workout and will definitely help you to get stronger. Using dumbbells for these movements is hugely beneficial as it means the body has to work unilaterally – any imbalances that have developed over the years will soon make themselves apparent!Remember, strength is relative to you as an individual, but you can use this to help guide you in your choice of weights. Pick two dumbbells that you could strict press overhead for five reps. Those five reps should be tough for you to complete – that is the weight you need for this workout. You will be using your legs in the push press, therefore we can pick a heavy load in order to also challenge the big, powerful muscles of your lower body. And finally, this workout is “for time”. This means you can record the time you complete it in and see the improvements in the future if you retest it. Start that timer, grab those dumbbells and have fun with it!

Melissa Weldon, head trainer at Sweat It

Exercise one: Renegade row press-up

Perform each move for one minute with 60 seconds rest in between.Holding two dumbbells, get yourself into a high plank position with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart. Perform one press-up and then one row on each side – then repeat. This can be performed on the knees if necessary. Weight recommendation for men: 7.5/10/12.5kg.

Exercise two: Dumbbell burpee

Start in a high plank position with your arms extended, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Jump the feet in to meet either side of the dumbbells, dropping the hips down and keeping the chest up. Deadlift the dumbbells off the ground, keeping your spine straight and chest lifted, then bend over to lower the dumbbells back to the ground and repeat the move. Weight recommendation for men: 10/12.5/15kg.

Exercise three: Squat thrust to overhead lunge

Stand with the feet hip-width apart, then sit back into a squat, aiming to get the thighs parallel to the floor. Drive back up to standing position, extending the arms and pushing the dumbbells over the head. With the dumbbells still overhead, perform a lunge on each leg and then return them to the shoulders and repeat the movement. Weight recommendation for men: 7.5/10/12.5kg.

Exercise four: Alternate dumbbell snatch

Start with one single dumbbell placed on the floor between the feet. Squat down to grab the dumbbell and, in one powerful move, drive the hips forward. As the dumbbell passes the hips, drive it up above the head. Reverse the move and repeat on the opposite arm. Weight recommendation for men: 10/12.5/15kg.

Exercise four: Alternate dumbbell snatch

The (hu)man maker cluster is effectively four moves in one; the renegade row press-up, the dumbbell burpee, the biceps curl and the shoulder press.Holding two dumbbells, get yourself into a high plank position with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart. Perform one press-up and then one row on each side. Both of these can be performed on the knees if necessary. Jump the feet to either side of dumbbells, dropping the hips down and keeping chest up. Deadlift the dumbbells off the ground, keeping the chest lifted. Once standing, perform one biceps curl followed by one shoulder press, then repeat from the beginning. Perform eight to 12 reps of each move and as many rounds as possible for six to ten Minutes. Repeat the circuit three to five times. Weight recommendation for men: 10/12.5/15kg.

Melissa Weldon, head trainer at Sweat It

Exercise one: Thrusters/squat press  

Not only a full-body movement and my favourite, this exercise really tests your mental strength too. With the same muscles recruited as a goblet squat, add in that press activating your shoulders and triceps, leaving you with a perfect upper body finish. It’s a movement I like to use to get my heart rate up and build a real sweat during my workout. All you need is two dumbbells.Hold your dumbbells in front of you, ideally with one end of each resting on the shoulders and the other end facing out. Keep your elbows high, roughly in line with the shoulders or just below with your chest opened and shoulder blades back. Start with your feet hip-to-shoulder-wide apart, toes slightly turned outwards and start to sit your bum towards the ground. Make sure as you do this you’re not allowing your body to fall forwards, keeping the chest opened, your elbows high and make sure your heels are loaded. Drive through the heels until your legs reach full extension while driving the dumbbells off the shoulders, extending the arms until the biceps are in line with the ears. Perform for 30 seconds to a minute and rest the same amount of time you worked.

Exercise two: Alternating dumbbell bent over row

For me this is one of the best upper body exercises you can do using dumbbells. Not only are you activating the latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, scapular stabilisers, but done properly you’ll be having to engage your hamstrings, glutes and core to maintain your position. In our day-to-day routine and jobs, we spend a lot of time rounding our shoulders forward without even realising it. This dumbbell exercise helps counteract this bad habit. Go alternating to really fire up your core too. Again, all you need are two dumbbells.Start with the dumbbells in your hands, body upright with your chest opened and shoulder blades back. Slightly bend your knees and begin to tilt forward from the hips maintaining your neutral spine. Once in a bent-over position, pull one dumbbell towards the obliques roughly inline with your belly button. Return it to start, then send the other dumbbell the same way. It’s key we maintain a strong upper back with our scapula supporting and rhomboids turned on to give our lats support throughout the movement. Perform for one minute and rest for the same length of time you worked.

Dudley MacDonald, Motion Training

Exercise one: dumbbell push press

A great movement for building muscular endurance in your shoulders. Stick this movement with kettle exercises to get a full-body workout in. Not only will this get a good shoulder burn, but the dumbbells are going overhead, which means you’ll be relying on your core for stability: extra ab gains!Start with the dumbbells at your shoulders with the heads resting on the shoulders. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart rather than shoulder-width. Send knees slightly forward and initiate the dip. Drive your feet into the floor as if you were about to jump. As the hips and knees fully extend, use the momentum from the leg drive to push the dumbbells overhead. The dumbbells want to be right over the shoulder. Don't let your arms go into a Y position: fitness can be fun, but practising your YMCA routine with dumbbells in your hands is a recipe for injury. Reset the DBs back to starting position and repeat the process.

Dudley MacDonald, Motion Training

Exercise one: dumbbell push press

Start by standing in a squat position, feet just outside of shoulder width, with a dumbbell in each hand. Bring both dumbbells up to your shoulders as though you’re about to perform a shoulder press. From this starting position, break at the hips and knees, dropping down into a squat. Try to keep your weight through your mid-foot, knee out over your feet, chest proud, core tight and a neutral spine. From this squat position ascend back up to a strong standing position. Once you hit the top of the squat, press both dumbbells up overhead, maintaining an engaged core before then lowering both dumbbells back to your shoulders. Think of this movement as two separate exercises (squat and dumbbell shoulder press) blended together into one smooth movement.

Exercise two: dumbbell deadbugs

Start by laying flat on the floor, grab one dumbbell and hold with straight arms up towards the ceiling directly over your chest. Then try to bring the dumbbell a little closer to the ceiling by bringing your head and shoulder up off of the ground. You’ll instantly feel tension in your abs at this point. From here, you want to bring your knees up towards your chest, aiming for 90 degrees at each knee, with both knees stacked directly over your hips. Imagine trying to press all of your weight through your belly button and spine into the floor. This will maximise tension through your core. From here, while maintaining your upper body position and keeping your lower back pinned down, alternate extending your legs out one at a time. Keep this movement slow and controlled.

Exercise three: dumbbell floor press

A dumbbell floor press is essentially a dumbbell bench press performed on the floor rather than a bench. Start by laying in a sit-up position on the floor, with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor near your bum. Positioning is important to ensure your chest muscles are doing the work here, so imagine squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades, retracting your shoulders and expanding your chest up towards the ceiling. Grab your pair of dumbbells and start with straight arms towards the sky, hands stacked over your elbows and shoulders. From here, lower the dumbbells towards your chest, ensuring your wrists stay stacked over your elbows as your elbows track down by your sides. Aim for your elbows to track roughly 45 degrees from your sides. Once your triceps tap the ground, keeping your shoulders back and chest proud, proceed to press the dumbbells back up towards the ceiling, focusing on squeezing your chest muscles throughout, returning to the starting position.

How to build these into a workout

Dumbbells are excellent tools to build stronger muscles, strength in and around your joints and more robust bones.For this workout, a pair of moderately heavy dumbbells will do the trick. For effective results, complete 10 reps of thrusters, followed by 30 seconds of dumbbell deadbugs, followed by 10 floor press repetitions. Then take 60 seconds rest to allow your muscles to recover before performing round two. If you have heaps of lifting experience under your belt, go ahead and aim for 5 rounds of this. If, however, you’re relatively new to weight training, ensure your technique is strong and aim for 3 rounds. There’s no rush, take your time with each rep, and focus on executing good controlled technique.Be sensible with your choice of weight for these exercises. It's important to keep integrity through your core and spine throughout the thrusters, so choose a weight that’s a challenge, but not too heavy that it compromises your technique. Equally with the deadbug and floor press, technique is key here for correct muscle activation so choose sensibly and progress when you feel is necessary.This workout is designed to target most key muscle groups. The thrusters will primarily target your legs, shoulders and triceps, but there’ll also be some core engagement and upper back tension throughout. Dumbbell deadbugs are a killer for your core. An excellent exercise to build strength and endurance through your mid-section, this will carry over brilliantly to all essential strength exercises. Finally, dumbbell floor press is one of the best upper body strength exercises, primarily targeting your chest, shoulders and triceps.Source (GQ Magazine)

May 5, 2021

The brain is such a vital part of the human body. It is responsible for many key functions such as breathing and circulation of the blood. If it is so important, we should look after it and help it out where we can. In the media there is a lot of emphasis on other parts of the body and how to keep them healthy, but how much do we really know about caring for our brain? Well let’s start feeding it with these 5 Top Brain-Boosting Foods!‍

1. Berries improve memory

Berries, along with apples and citrus fruits are rich in flavonoids, a group of plant pigments, which are thought to boost memory function. Research suggests that these compounds may reverse age-related decline in memory, by enhancing the function of existing neuronal structures — basic working units of the brain. Adding a handful of these fruits will enhance your memory!

2. Brazil nuts lower depression risk and boost mood

Brazil nuts are packed with selenium. Research indicates that selenium plays a significant role in the functioning of the brain, with findings relating participants who exhibit more severe depressive symptoms to having a low selenium state. Selenium is involved in the production of one of the body’s most potent antioxidants — Glutathione, which is linked with mood-boosting effects.

3. Fatty fish improves concentration

Fatty fish includes salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna. These fish are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called Docosahexaenoic acid — DHA for short. DHA is crucial for the structure and function of the brain and plays a part in the signalling system within it. Eating these types of fish will strengthen your brain’s signalling capabilities and increase your concentration.

4. Green tea increases alertness

Green tea’s caffeine content will be sure to keep you feeling alert. This refreshing beverage also contains the amino acid L-theanine which will ensure your reactions are fast. Research found that intake of L-theanine during tasks, increased alertness improved accuracy and reduced fatigue. If those are the benefits, then pour me a cuppa!

5. Turmeric encourages new brain cell growth

Turmeric contains the active compound curcumin which boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, (BDNF) a type of growth hormone that helps brain cells grow. Our body produces around 700 neurons (in the hippocampus region of the brain) per day but with the help of turmeric you can speed up your brain’s ability to produce new cells.