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This collection of blog articles addresses topics such as indoor cycle training techniques, correct hydration, how to setup your spinning or stationary bike and biometric information on some of the rides we offer. We even have a thought provoking series of posts that looks at cycling from the perspective of Chinese medicine.

Featured Post - 10 Reasons to Drink Shakes

By Georgina Spenceley, Guest Contributor and Owner of Spenceley Sports Therapy

Yummy Fruit Shakes
Post-workout shakes, pre-workout shakes, good morning shakes! There's a time and a place for a nice cold, smooth shake any time of the day. Aside from the obvious taste benefits, and the fact that they take you back to childhood memories, supping on a big bendy straw (or is that just me?) smoothies and shakes have plenty of health benefits too. Here are 10 reasons why you might want to include shakes in your training diet.

1. Shakes are Quick and Convenient

Whether you blend one up the night before a busy morning ready to drink on the move, or blitz a shake when you get in from the gym, there's no denying that shakes are "fast food". Made in bulk, most shakes kept in the fridge will last a few days.

2. They Help Hydrate You

We all know that fruit and vegetables are mostly water, roughly 80-95% in fact, but it may surprise you to learn that yoghurt and milk are both also between 85-90% water. So remember that next time you hear the age-old saying that you should drink 8 glasses of a day for good hydration!

3. They Are Easy to Digest…

This may be a little "too-much-information" but it's a fact that the vast majority of us don't chew our food properly. This puts a greater strain on the stomach to work hard digesting our food and is a major contributor to that grinding feeling you sometimes get from a big meal. But with a smoothie, the solids are already broken down into a more easily digestible state, meaning you start to get the stream of nutrients your body needs after a workout much sooner.

4. … And Keep You Full!

I remember seeing an experiment once where two groups of men were given a meal of chicken, vegetables and rice with a glass of water, only one group were given the solid food and a separate glass of water, and the other were given the meal blended up with the water into a soup. The second group actually felt fuller for longer, because the water stayed in the stomach longer because it was thickened with the solid food. The same principle could be applied to shakes: blitz some fruit and veg with a glass of milk or orange juice and you're more likely to stay fuller for longer.

5. They Can Provide You With All of the Vitamins, Nutrients and Antioxidants You Need

Shakes, especially made with a variety of fruits and vegetables, can give you your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Choose fruit with dark, thin skins, like berries, for the biggest antioxidant hit. Spinach and kale are also great additions to a good smoothie. Use your choice of liquid depending on your goals, whether it's yoghurt for a thicker shake, milk or protein powder and water for a protein hit, or juice for an extra vitamin and carbohydrate shot. You can even add oats, nuts and seeds for extra protein, fiber, minerals and healthy fats. With the right ingredients, shakes really can be a meal in a glass.

6. They Contain Plenty of Fiber to Aid Digestion

Because shakes and smoothies are made up of the whole fruit, and not just the juice, they contain more of the fiber content needed to aid our digestion. You can also add extra ingredients like oats to bulk out the shake with more fiber.

7. Fruit Shakes Help Fuel Your Brain and Prevent Exercise Induced Hypoglycaemia

Long duration exercise like cycling, if not fueled properly before, during and after, can cause your blood sugar levels to dip, resulting in nausea, headaches, tiredness and dizziness. A shake with a good amount of carbohydrate, like fruit, will help prevent this if drunk as soon as possible after exercise. But don't skimp on the pre-workout snack or meal, or on-the-bike nutrition, as these are also important if you're exercising for 60-90 minutes.

8. Shakes Help to Boost Your Immune System

It's well known that fruits and vegetables help boost our immune system by providing us with important vitamins. Some of the best immune boosting fruits and veggies include: oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes. All of these could be blitzed up and added to your shake! For some great shake recipes check out 12 Healthy Smoothie Recipes to Supercharge Your Workout.

9. Protein Shakes Drunk Before a Workout May Help Prevent Muscle Breakdown

When we workout the muscles are put through a certain amount of stress. This stress breaks down the muscle fibers, and with correct rest and nutrition they repair and grow stronger. But, with any training there is always the risk of a certain amount of hypertrophy, where the muscle tissue is broken down for energy. A hit of protein before your workout can help prevent this muscle wastage, so try adding a scoop of protein powder, or a glass of milk/cup of plain yoghurt to your pre-workout shake.

10. Protein and Carbohydrate Mix Shakes Help You Recover More Quickly

As mentioned in Refuel and Recover, the ideal mix of carbohydrate:protein for efficient workout recovery is 3:1. This ideal ratio can be easily achieved with a shake. Simply mix up a couple of portions of fruit with a glass of milk, a small pinch of salt for electrolyte rebalance and add a few ice cubes for extra coolness, and you have your ideal recovery shake… for a fraction of the price of the big name brand offering.

So that's it, 10 Reasons to Drink Shakes. Do you drink shakes or smoothies? What benefits do you see from them? I'd love to hear from you!

About Georgina

Georgina Spenceley (MSMA) is a Sports Therapist, Nutritionist, and owner of Spenceley Sports Therapy, an independent Sports Massage and Diet Analysis service based in Essex, England. She has specialist knowledge in performance nutrition, sports injuries, biomechanics and fitness coaching. Georgina also owns the Health and Fitness blog "Fitcetera") and writes freelance articles about diet, exercise and sports injuries. Education: Certificate in Higher Education: Sports Therapy, Human Nutrition and Challenging Obesity, REPs Level 2 Fitness Instruction, Leadership in Running Fitness.

You can follow Georgina on Twitter here and on Facebook here.