Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Nature’s Best Verdesse green coffee supplement

May 29, 2013

A while ago, Nature’s Best sent me a generous package of their green coffee extract supplement, Verdesse®.

It’s no secret that I love coffee, but the active ingredient in Verdesse® isn’t caffeine. The roasting process involved in the coffee we drink destroys lots of the natural compounds, and the coffee extract used in Verdesse® comes from unroasted coffee beans. This supplement uses a decaffeinated green coffee extract called Svetol® which contains high levels of chlorogenic acids – in particular 5–caffeoylquinic acid, an active compound which occurs naturally in coffee beans and could help control blood sugar levels and boost metabolic rate, helping anyone looking to lose/control their weight.

A two-tablet serving contains 400mg green coffee extract (the same amount you could get from three cups of green coffee – but it’s an acquired taste, so this is a very easy and convenient way of getting high levels of the active compounds into your diet).

Verdesse® is marketed as a dieting/weight loss aid, although Nature’s Best are at pains to point out that it’s not a miracle product (as a company, they are always very careful to steer clear of any claims which could be misleading – they’re very fact-based and straight down the line).

From the blurb

“In order to lose weight there is no alternative to restricting your calorie intake so that you consume fewer calories than your body is using. The body therefore has to make up the difference by burning fat. And anything you can do to reduce your calorie intake, or increase the rate you burn fat (such as exercise) will therefore help speed up the process of losing weight.”

What did I think? Well here’s the difficulty – I’m dieting for bodybuilding shows and I take a few dietary supplements already, so it’s very hard to measure the effectiveness of this green coffee extract. However, what I can say is that I have a lot of faith in Nature’s Best as a company and I know that a great deal of research and know-how goes into all of their products. So, if you’ve heard about green coffee extract and are interested in using it as a supplement, I can recommend that you give Verdesse® a try.

As an aside, Nature’s Best have recently launched a range of sports supplements which has its own website – head over and check it out at Nature’s Best sports.

Thank you, Nature’s Best! Find them online here Nature’s Best.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Nature’s Best Verdesse green coffee supplement is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Revealed: the UK’s top 10 green exercise spots

May 26, 2012

Isn’t this weather amazing? It got me thinking about outdoor training in all its forms: biking (which I’m about to do myself), running, open-water swimming and classes like bootcamps. Do you train outdoors?

I was recently sent the results of a survey which showed that women in particular are most definitely ditching the gym in favour of exercising outside. There’s been a 52% increase in women exercising outside since 2007, apparently. Nearly half of the women surveyed are exercising outdoors 3+ times every week (with gym fees gives as the main reason).

The results of the survey, commissioned by sports bra brand Shock Absorber, suggest that there’s more to it than finances, though. 34% of the women surveyed said they actually feel they get a better workout when they’re outside because they find the surroundings so inspiring.

Intrigued by this comment, Shock Absorber delved deeper, partnering with Dr Jo Barton (a leading researcher in green exercise at the University of Essex) in a bid to identify the UK’s top ten inspirational green exercise hotspots. The criteria were: a balance of green space and water, stimulating views and proximity to wildlife.

I think we can all agree that a windswept coastline, lush green field or imposing set of hills make us feel exhilarated, uplifted and full of endorphins. So, what (or where) topped the list, according to the poll? I wonder if any of you are lucky enough to live near any of these…

White Cliffs of Dover, England (been there! Once or twice… LOL…)
Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, England
Lunan Bay & Red Head, Scotland
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Killarney National Park, Republic of Ireland
Hampstead Heath, England (been there!)
Loch Tay, Scotland (been near there, very beautiful indeed!)
Downhill, Northern Ireland
Forest of Dean (been there! very hilly for cycling, trust me)
Powis Castle, Welshpool, Wales

Do any of you live near these places? Do you run, cycle, walk or hike there regularly? How do the views and surroundings affect your mood and the perception of your workout?

Dr Barton said: “Green exercise offers unique benefits compared to working out indoors. It significantly improves mood, self-esteem and restores mental fatigue. Added to this, people work harder when in a natural environment but perceive their workout to be easier. Training in the great outdoors also provides essential variety, especially with the changeable British weather – this maintains interest and reduces dropout whereas keeping fit indoors is more predictable.”

Shock Absorber has launched its “Get Out There” campaign to promote the benefits of exercising in the great outdoors and encourage women to share their inspirational places to train. By uploading photos to the campaign’s Facebook page, people can be inspired by others’ experiences and get out there to try new locations for themselves. You can see lots of lovely inspirational locations and participate in the campaign by visiting Get Out There.

Revealed: the UK’s top 10 green exercise spots is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week: Nature’s Best nutritional supplements

May 22, 2012

Oh, hi! A few weeks ago, I wrote this blog post, an interview with Dr Sam Christie, in which she kindly gave some suggestions about nutritional/dietary supplements which might benefit me during my bodybuilding prep. She works as a consultant for Nature’s Best, and the company generously sent me everything she recommended. It’s taken me a few weeks to get through it all and give it a fair chance but here is my review of the products I was sent:

Vitamin C, Siberian Ginseng, omega 3 fish oils, MultiGuard Balance, Vitamin D and OsteoGuard.

First up, the Vitamin C. This stuff contains 500mg Vit C (as well as 50mg citrus bioflavonoid and 25mg rosehip powder) per tablet. Most people don’t get enough Vitamin C even if they supplement with a pill. It’s recommended that we actually take in upwards of 3g per day, particularly if training hard or under any other kind of stress (ha! ha!) So I’ve been chucking those bad boys back like there’s no tomorrow. Well, slight exaggeration. I have been taking 6/day – a total of 3g. I have been fit and healthy and devoid of any illness or infection, despite being under significant stress at the moment (training and other). Two enthusiastic thumbs up for this product!

Now, the Siberian Ginseng. In Dr Christie’s post, she suggested that ginseng was a good alternative to caffeine, giving all the benefits without the unwanted side-effects. I am a caffeine monster. I don’t care about the side-effects. I could bathe in coffee, rub coffee grounds into my eyeballs and swim through lakes of Red Bull and then dance around the house to Kiss 100 and still go back for more. Still, I realise that I have a duty to explore alternative ways of caning my adrenal system, so I accepted this unassuming little pot of green tablets – 1500mg each of top-quality ginseng – with grateful thanks.

The verdict: I love! Don’t get me wrong, it’s no double ristretto piccolo but I definitely feel it gives me a boost without the buzz. You know how caffeine can sometimes give you the jitters? *twitch* Well with this Siberian Ginseng, you get none of that. You take one tablet first thing and it just… keeps you going, somehow. I take it daily. It’s not a noticeable boost like with coffee or sugar or anything like that. But I bet I would notice the difference if I didn’t take it. I’ll be ordering some more!

Next up, the omega 3 fish oils. I have been sharing these with my training partner: yes, thefitdog has been benefitting from fish oils in his diet! He already loves coconut oil (video evidence), so I thought what the hell. He had a patchy bit of rough skin on his side and it’s almost completely cleared up since giving him 2 fish oil caps/day (it was bald, rough and hairless, now the skin is soft and the hair is growing back). As for me, well I do suffer with dry skin and so I like to take a good quality omega 3 oil. I do feel this omega 3 fish oils is one of the best I’ve used. It’s got 700mg of Omega 3s per capsule (including 360mg EPA and 240mg DHA), is very carefully made/purified and is made in the UK which I think is important for a supplement like this. I feel omega 3 supplements are important not just for skin but for hormone function and generally for a healthy diet. So, another thumbs up for this one. At £25 for 360 capsules, it works out at under 25p/day* even if you take 3 a day (as I do). *I think. Somebody fetch my abacus!

OK next up are the MultiGuard Balance. It’s a multi-vitamin and -mineral with lots of extras for active people. Like chromium, said to help balance blood glucose levels, magnesium, zinc and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). There’s also cinnamon in there, and it actually tastes cinnamony (not that you chew it of course, but you can still taste it). This is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know whether or not this supplement helped me – it’s hard to tell when you take a few and don’t have some kind of testing/measuring thing set up – but it can’t have been a bad thing. And one thing I can say for sure is that I’ve been as fit as a fiddle and strong as an ox throughout the past few weeks despite a lot of challenges being thrown my way. I haven’t been ill once. Take THAT, challenges! In ya face!

OK, just a couple more: Vitamin D and OsteoGuard. Vitamin D is another important one to take, if you ask me. Our bodies can’t make it and we don’t get much of it from the environment (unless you’re reading this whilst sitting on a beach in Antigua). These tablets are a hefty 1000iu each – a good dosage. Important for bone density and immune health. The Osteoguard is also one for you if you’re concerned about healthy bones: 500mg calcium, 188mg magnesium , vitamin D and vitamin K. Everything you need for healthy bones, regardless of how good your diet is (apparently, 70% of women don’t get enough magnesium from their diets).

Right, I’m outta here. Dogs to walk, cardio to do. I hope that was helpful – in summary, I really feel these products are all super quality and great value for money if you break it down into “per day” costs. Pick and choose the ones which you feel you need most and enjoy feeling healthier!


Fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week: Nature’s Best nutritional supplements is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Guest post: nutrition and supplementation Q&A with Dr Sam Christie

April 2, 2012

A while ago, I wrote a feature for Body Fit magazine about common fitness facts (and fiction). One of the experts who provided me with useful comments was Dr Sam Christie, an independent nutritionist who works with Nature’s Best
on the research side of things. Dr Christie mentioned that she is always interested in answering queries about nutrition from particular groups of people. When I said I was a competitive bodybuilder, she told me to send over some questions which she’d gladly answer.

Many weeks later (so sorry!), I’ve finally got round to airing her answers! Here’s our Q&A, I hope you find something useful within it, whatever sport you do and whatever your level of activity.

thefitwriter: What are your areas of interest?
Dr Sam Christie:
My research thesis focused on the effects of non-pharmacological OTC treatments for benign reproductive-age. I continued to collaborate with enlightened universities and hospitals on nutrient and plant-extract research, where we looked at conditions as varied as asthma, osteoporosis, fatigue, pre-diabetes, women’s hair loss and gut health. I have been a keen cyclist and dancer for many years.

tfw: What in your opinion are the most important supplements for female natural bodybuilders?
Clinically, a mineral-heavy, stress and free-radical-offsetting multi-nutrient and herbal extract programme is a vital cornerstone of a healthy diet for natural body builders. Having said that, adequate omega 3 and use of menstrual-cycle normalising supplements (where necessary) are important too.

tfw: Our training tends to be very stressful on the body and we are often dieting alongside this. What do you think are the most crucial three supplements for anyone putting their body through stress?
A good multi-nutrient, fish oil and calcium/magnesium supplement. See below for more of an explanation.

tfw: A particular area of interest to me is rest and sleep. Can you recommend anything for better quality sleep?
Naturally, uncover any psychological and physiological factors alongside undertaking stress-reduction techniques. Alongside this you could use Valerian officinalis extract (2x400mg extract tablets 1 hr before bed), gallons of chamomile tea (two tea bags per mug – leave the bag in to infuse) and additional calcium and magnesium if a detailed diet-diary shows you to be lacking.

tfw: What is your opinion on caffeine as a pre-workout “booster”?
If this just used to raise vitality and concentration, you could use an extract of Siberian Ginseng (around four hours before training) to get the boost without the side effects of caffeine, which some people won’t want or tolerate. Siberian Ginseng is the world’s best-known and most highly-researched adaptogen. Because it has a caffeine type of action, it really is best taken first thing in the morning. Nature’s Best Siberian Ginseng is a sophisticated extract that has guaranteed levels of the active ingredients (eleutherosides). Many people, particularly women, find that Siberian ginseng works better for them than Korean Ginseng. It is regarded as a more gentle preparation and, indeed, is often referred to as the female ginseng.

Dr Sam Christie’s supplement and dietary programme for natural body builders

DSC: On balance, we eat too much carbohydrate as a nation, particularly of the refined variety. Low GI (glycaemic index) carbohydrates (oats, brown rice, pulses) are perfect for sportspeople including bodybuilders at around 30% of total calorie intake. These slow-release forms of energy are terrifically filling and micronutrient-dense, full of glucose-stabilising minerals such as chromium, magnesium and zinc.

Magnify the priming effects of foods by using a multi-nutrient supplement: I recommend a minimum of 200mcg of chromium, 15mg of zinc and 400mg cinnamon extract (MultiGuard Balance contains a clinically-relevant supply of B vitamins which aid in cortisol normalisation), alongside Vitamin D and omega 3 fish oils. Also time-released Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, time-released; £11.95 for 180 tablets). However, without the use of intense exercise-relevant supplies of calcium and magnesium, the adrenal gland may not be fully supported, and insomnia – along with other nasties like low afternoon energy -can kick-in. Research shows that many women in the UK fail to consume anywhere near adequate calcium and magnesium supplies from their food.

To offset exercise-induced inflammatory responses, don’t cook with sunflower oil or related products, as these are terrifically high in omega 6 fats. Eating oil-rich fish (omega 3 fats) three times a week and taking daily fish oil supplements will optimise your omega 3/omega 6 ratio and – along with a minimum of five portions of fruit and veggies a day – will ensure minimal inflammatory load from the diet.

I hope you found this blog post helpful. Thank you, Sam! I am going to be trying out Nature’s Best as recommended by Dr Christie, and I’ll report back in a few weeks.

Guest post: nutrition and supplementation Q&A with Dr Sam Christie is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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