I'M PREGNANT...CAN I STILL HAVE MY DAILY DOSE OF CAFFEINE?

When you are pregnant there is so much advice that people are willing to give you, some of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Whether it be about parenting methods, birthing interventions, sleeping arrangements or what food and drinks you should or shouldn’t be consuming, everyone has (and is entitled to) their opinion.

When it comes to food and drinks there are some recommendations from well-recognized bodies in terms of foods and beverages that should be avoided for a number of reasons to protect the health of both you and your baby. No doubt you will each know someone that went through their pregnancy who avoided everything from any form of deli meat, soft cheese and seafood to those that just couldn’t quite give up their Sunday morning runny eggs or weren’t bothered about washing every single salad item before it went into their mouth.

When it comes to beverages we all know that alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy as there is no safe limit. However, what about caffeine; how will it affect your morning cuppa when you are carrying a little one and what effect does caffeine have on the development of your baby?  When looking at caffeine and pregnancy there is a little more research within this area. Studies have reported that caffeine intake has been reported to be associated with a reduction in birth weight, however the exact level is still unknown. One study with more the 2500 women in the UK confirmed that a maternal intake of more than 300mg per day was associated with low birth weight or foetal growth restriction (300mg per day is about 3-4 cups of coffee using the instant variety).  It also found that an average caffeine intake of greater than 100mg per day was associated with a reduction in birth weight in the third trimester. Although the threshold for which the risk of foetal growth restriction and lower birth weights increases, it concluded that the risk was reduced in those women consuming less than 100mg per day (approximately one coffee per day). The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia pledged to determine a recommended intake of caffeine for pregnant women within Australia following the publication of these findings.

So what’s the recommendation?

Australian guidelines recommend you limit your intake to less than 200 mg per day, so that's about one to two instant coffees a day and two to three cups of tea. Be mindful that your favorite barista coffee will contain more caffeine than your home instants.

It is advised that to be particularly mindful of your caffeine intake during your first trimester due to that time period being the greatest risk for miscarriage. However if you love your daily dose of coffee and have multiple cups per day, reducing your intake when pregnant may be something that you struggle with. You may also be more likely to experience the nasty withdrawal symptoms such as persistent headaches and further feelings of fatigue, which is just what you need when you are already feeling that way through growing a human within you.

It is important to consider other sources on top of your standard coffee also as caffeine isn't just found in your tea and coffee. If you’ve been indulging in some chocolate with your coffee or enjoy a soft drink with lunch these count towards your daily intake also. You need to be aware that the amount of caffeine is not adding up from other sources, for example one serve of the following equates to the listed amount of caffeine:

  • Serve of instant coffee: 80-100mg
  • Serve of filter coffee: 140mg
  • Black tea: 20 - 70mg
  • Green tea: ~20 - 40mg
  • Coke 355ml: 20-35mg
  • Diet Coke 355ml: 20-50mg
  • Pepsi 350ml: 40mg
  • Red Bull 260ml: 77mg
  • 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: ~ 50mg
  • 50g bar of milk chocolate: ~ 25mg.

If the thought of giving up your daily dose of caffeine or missing out on that warm cuppa, especially with winter coming, why not try having a cup of warm lemon water (great for your digestive system and immunity) or caffeine free teas whether loose leaf or in bags. There are so many different flavours to select from chamomile, peppermint, apple & ginger. Alternatively if you prefer to stick to your barista brewed coffee you could opt for decaf or a single shot only.

Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to give up your morning latte or regular shot of espresso (if you can – great!). Ensure you stick below the Australian guidelines of 200mg/day or speak to your doctor if you are concerned.

Brooke x

SHAPING YOUR LOWER BODY - BENEFITS OF UNILATERAL MOVEMENTS

Squats, deadlifts, leg press; all great compound exercises that are effective in building strength and conditioning your lower body.

Often overlooked though are the unilateral or single leg movements that should be incorporated into your workouts if you are after shape, tone and strength through your lower body.

I am a big lover of unilateral movements. I find them very challenging and it helps you realise what areas or sides of the body require a little more work when they are singled out.

Unfortunately I’ve recently started to avoid the single leg movements for the lower body and will do for the remainder of my pregnancy as it started to contribute to some pelvic girdle pain. I can honestly say I’m missing my lunges and single leg squats. But for those of you that don’t have any PGP and are looking to change up your leg routine a little and start seeing some changes to your lower body, I highly recommend incorporating some unilateral exercises.

Unilateral movements are fantastic for:

  • Increasing your strength – that one leg has nowhere to hide and can’t rely on its buddy to help it out of the exercise. All of the focus is in the one leg at a time. When coupled with a healthy diet assists in improving muscle tone and shape of the area due to the recruitment and activation of various muscle fibres.
  • Improving your balance – standing on one leg can be challenging at the best of times. When you add movement into that or some added resistance it will really challenge both your balance and posture, leading to:
  • Improved core strength and stability – your core muscles need to work harder and remain activated to assist in balance throughout the movements, resulting in a stronger core.
  • Assists with muscle activation and recruitment – performing unilateral movement’s forces you to focus on the specific muscle groups you want to recruit to successfully complete the exercise. This helps build that mind-muscle connection and activate muscle fibres that might normally go unnoticed when performing a normal squat or deadlift.

Some of my favourite single legged exercises for shaping and toning the lower body are:

  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Back stepping lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Single leg hamstring curl
  • Single legged press
  • 45 degree side single leg press
  • Single legged deadlift
  • Pistol squat
  • Cable kickbacks
  • Donkey kicks

When performing single leg exercises form is super important and in benefiting from the results and avoiding injury. Be sure to start with body weight or light resistance. Some of the above exercises also really challenge your balance so are great at assisting to improve this and your proprioception. To make them more challenging keep the tempo to a 1:3 or 3:1 ratio or even super slow, add in some bottom half pulses or isometric holds to really feel the burn.

Add 1-2 of these exercises into your next leg routine, or perform a circuit of 3-4 of them on a regular basis to help see some changes to that lower body.

Brooke x

IS IT TIME TO MIX UP YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?

It has been shown that cross training is an effective (and fun) way to reach you fitness and weight loss goals

When we continually do the same thing over again our clever bodies adapts to the energy systems used and become more efficient.

This is why you may feel that you stop seeing results in terms of a weight loss goal you may have, that your best time of a 5k time trial is just not improving or that you just can't seem to increase the weight on your bar in the squat track in pump of the gym.

Depending on your goal there may be one form of training that works for you. However incorporating a mix of strength and conditioning, plyometrics, stretching and endurance/steady state based training into an exercise plan can often be more effective than one of these on their own.

So do you regularly hit the pavement, gym or prefer it in the pool? It might be time to change it up to challenge your body and fitness trying something different - even add in a few intervals to your usual lap routine, an incline to your daily jog or some time under tension to your weights.

Keep the body guessing!

Brooke x