Creatine… Should you believe the hype?

Supplements or Nah: Volume 2

You’ve dabbled in Whey Protein, might have even tried some pre-workout but now it’s time to step you supplement game up, is creatine the way forward?

What is creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance, it can be found in the diet mostly through meat and fish (Roughly 3-5g per kg). It is also produced by the kidneys, pancreas and liver. Creatine is stored in the muscle and is a vital component of energy production during high-intensity exercise such as sprinting or lifting weights.

Benefits

  1. Well researched and safe – This is fundamental for any supplement you are looking to include in your diet. Creatine is one of the most well researched supplements on the market. While no supplement is completely safe, as mentioned in my blog about protein (Check it out here) creatine has a solid evidence base to demonstrate it’s usefulness and safety
  2. Increased muscular endurance – Creatine supplementation allows your muscles to resynthesize ATP (the bodies main fuel during high-intensity exercise) more effectively. This means you can pump out more reps per set, meaning progressive overload and serious gains!
  3. Increased work capacity – Along with getting more reps in a set you are able to recover and maintain this enhanced performance through multiple sets which means you perform more work throughout your workout.
  4. Increased lean body mass – Creatine = more muscle, the two factors above mean that over time creatine supplementation will allow you to gain more lean body mass and get to your goal physique faster.
  5. Increased Strength – A larger muscle is usually a stronger one, along with the ability to do more work in your training sessions, creatine supplementation has been proven to increase strength gains.

Drawbacks

  1. Water retention – some people taking creatine can experience rapid weight gain of 1 – 2kg, this weight gain is due to increased water retention in the muscle cells, so if you are trying to cut weight for any reason this is something you should consider.
  2. Side Effects – Some people experience symptoms such as muscle cramping and stomach pain however these symptoms are not massively common.
  3. Non-responders – for some people creatine will not elicit the effects described, these are called non-responders, I’m not sure there’s any research to determine what percentage of people this is but it’s widely estimated at around 20-30% of people. So it’s kind of a joy kill if you make the investment and see no gains.

How to supplement creatine?

Firstly, we are referring to oral supplementation, because it’s easy and proven to be effective. Creatine as a supplement is not something you can take once and expect to see the effects immediately you have to do something called ‘Creatine Loading’ this is essentially just increasing the amount of creatine that is stored in the muscle cells.

There are two ways to do this with oral supplementation:
Consume 20g per day (5g x4 throughout the day) for 5 days or;
Consume 3-5d per day for 30 days.
Following this, you need to maintain supplementation (3-5g per day depending on current lean body mass) in order to keep creatine levels elevated.
You should try to take your creatine alongside a carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein containing meal.

In terms of the type of creatine, you should be taking the most studied form is Creatine Monohydrate this is proven to be effective, the science around many other variants is shaky even if the supplement companies do a good job of marketing them. You can get them in both powder form or in tablet form, whichever you find more convenient.

Below are some links to products I’ve tried and would recommend, but there are tons of great products out there and as I said previously creatine monohydrate is the way to go so as long as that’s your main/only ingredient you should be good to go.

Bulk Powders – Pure Creatine Monohydrate 1kg
The Protein Works – Creatine Monohydrate 1kg
MyProtein – Creatine Monohydrate 250 Tablets

Personally, creatine is just about the only supplement I really value, it was the first ever supplement I took and I personally saw the benefits, years later seeing the research, it’s still a supplement I believe in. With a lot of supplements, it’s really hard to prove they work, the research just isn’t there. Or even if there is you would be better off adjusting your diet (Whey Protein for example). However, it’s really difficult to get large amounts of creatine in the diet and we know it works, I think that’s what makes this supplement so great and so trusted.

Let me know what you think? Is creatine in your supplement draw?

Sources/Find Out More

THE SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF CREATINE MONOHYDRATE SUPPLEMENTATION

Fat Loss 101

5 Fat loss hacks to get lean in 2019

Getting lean/losing weight/cutting whatever you want to call it… for most people, it isn’t an easy process. But it certainly is simple. There’s lots of good information and a whole lot of bad information, out there! This is my attempt to give you some basic principles on how to bring your goals to life.

Calories matter

This is not to say that everyone should be counting every calorie or be scared of food. Calories matter they are a measure of the energy you are putting into your body and the energy your body is using. Fundamentally, if you are wanting to lose weight you need to be consuming fewer calories than you expend. Personally, I like to keep a track of my calories because I like to eat lots of the sweeter things in life and that helps me make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. But there are many ways to achieve the same results and I will explain these later.

Get yo’ protein up!

I’m not about to sell you some magic powder to drink, but protein is definitely your friend during your cut. Why is protein so important? Firstly, because it’s necessary for the maintenance of the muscle mass you’ve been working for in the gym. As well as this, a high protein diet is going to help you feel fuller and this will reduce the urge to binge eat. There is lots of information around how much protein you should consume, if you are cutting I would recommend 1.8 – 2 grams per kilogram of body weight and this should help limit the amount of muscle mass you lose (Phillips and Van Loon, 2011). For some people getting their protein up may mean the use of shakes and supplements. But it’s just as easy to do this with food. Some of my favourites are O% Fat Natural Yogurt, Egg Whites, Chicken, Milk, Black Beans (shout out my vegans). These are just to name a few, if you’re struggling for high protein meal ideas, then check out some of the Flavaful recipes on the blog.

Keep it light…

One easy way to lose weight that doesn’t involve tracking macros or counting calories is to eat food that is less dense in energy. For a lot of foods, this could simply be switching to the light/low fat/less sugar option. Making a few of these switches to things you eat every day could well result in the caloric deficit you need to lose weight without a whole bunch of stress and effort on your part. Obviously, you have to be careful, drinking a diet Coke doesn’t mean you can have that fourth cookie, and for some products, you need to check that it is actually less calorific rather than just impressive marketing. But this is an easy win and while cutting is definitely a journey and there is no magic pill, you want to make it as painless as possible and this helps.

Move more

All the points above largely deal with energy intake but energy expenditure is just as important a part of this equation. If you’re looking to cut you need to move more, there are so many ways you can do this without it being a chore. Go on a  fun a walk in the morning, take the stairs, do the vacuuming, go play sports. Whatever it is, moving more is going to increase your caloric expenditure and help make your cut a little bit easier to maintain.

Not So Fast!

When it comes to losing weight people are very impatient. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked for advice on how to get in shape, I’m like cool what are your goals? and the response I receive is well I’m going on holiday next week, abs got to be poppin’. There are many reasons why this kind of mindset is not the best, it tends to result in a lack of results at best and often times will drive people to try crash diets and whatever other fads Instagram is selling. When it comes to cutting slow and steady, for most people, wins the race. A slower cut allows you to maintain more muscle mass, which will help you gain definition as you lose fat mass. It also means you’ll be able to eat more, which means better training sessions, less chance of getting ill and most importantly less chance of being ‘Hangry’ which your friends and family will appreciate.  The amount of weight you should aim to lose each week is going to vary between individuals depending on training status and where you’re starting from. But Garthe et al., 2011 recommends 0.7% of body mass per week and I think this is a good starting point for most individuals.

I hope this was useful, it’s really just an introduction to a topic that is so interesting and often times so misunderstood. If you happen to like this blog, I’ll come back with part two.

Let’s help each other, share your fitness secrets in the comments, what helps keep you on track with your fitness goals?

Sources/Learn more

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT FOR ATHLETES AND ACTIVE INDIVIDUALS

Phillips, S.M. and Van Loon, L.J., 2011. Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of sports sciences29(sup1), pp.S29-S38.

Garthe, I., Raastad, T., Refsnes, P.E., Koivisto, A. and Sundgot-Borgen, J., 2011. Effect of two different weight-loss rates on body composition and strength and power-related performance in elite athletes. 
International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism21(2), pp.97-104.

Natural Peri Peri Chicken

As the blog grows and develops I want to tell more stories and share recipes and ‘Flava’ from cultures all around the globe. This week I’m going to start with something that might just be the most popular dish in the fitness community and in the country in general. Peri-Peri Chicken! This one has taken the country by storm and I’ve been a fan since way back when my Under-18’s basketball team were sponsored by Nando’s *Living the dream*.

Quick Food History #StayWoke

Food tells great stories, that was one of my main motivations for writing this blog. We pass our culture through our food, so it’s important to strive to know a little bit more about the food that you eat, its history, and its origins.

Just like Jerk, Peri-Peri is a dish with rich cultural history, variations of that famous sauce date back as far as the 15th century. Although it has come to be known as Peri Peri the Portuguese refer to it as Piri-Piri Swahili for pepper-pepper, which hails back to the dish’s African roots. While it’s exact origins are still debated we know that the dish likely originated with Portuguese settlers (Colonizers) in Angola and Mozambique, who discovered the African Bird’s Eye Chilli and combined this with some other seasonings to create the dish we know and love today.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • 2 Red Peppers
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Bulb of Garlic
  • 6 African Birds Eye Chillies
  • 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp Crushed Chilli Flakes
  • 3 Fresh Lemons
  • 3 tbsp Oil
  • 2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Salt 
  • Black Pepper

DSC01320

Method 

  1. Heat a skillet or griddle pan on a medium heat
  2. Slice your onions and pepper and crush your garlic
  3. Add these to the pan and cook them for 5-10 minutes
  4. Slice your chilli peppers 
  5. Juice your lemons 
  6. Add the cooked garlic, onions & pepper to a blender along with your chillies, lemon juice and vinegar 
  7. Blend until it’s smoother than a Marvin Gaye album
  8. Add chilli flakes, paprika and a dash of salt and pepper (blend it some more for good measure) 
  9. Bring it to the boil in a small saucepan 
  10. Slowly add your oil and honey then stir it up.
  11. Add your thyme and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes 
  12. Let it cool and there you have it your very own Peri-Peri Chicken Marinade*
  13. So now to make the chicken all you need to do it smother it in your marinade, let it sit in the fridge overnight and soak it the flava then the next day cook it in the oven for those delicious peri flavours
  14. For extra flava cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side in a skillet or griddle pan before finishing in the oven.  

*Pro tip: I’ve found that this sauce improves with time so let it sit in your fridge for a few days the flava just keeps getting better. 

Get cooking, I hope you enjoy it. Like, share and subscribe to the blog if you want to see me explore some other dishes from around the world. 

Peace,
B


Blueberry Protein Pancakes

This week I’m bringing a classic. If you watch enough YouTube you already know about this one but I feel I have to add a little fitness and flava twist to it and share it with the world. Pancakes are one of my all-time favourite desserts/breakfasts/snacks, basically, whatever time of day it is I’m down to eat some pancakes. So pancakes that are high in protein, filled with micronutrients and take 5 minutes to cook up, then that’s a dream, right? Well, that is the dream I’m sharing with you all today!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 50g Oats
  • A dash of Cinamon
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • Blueberries

Method:

  1. Add your banana, egg whites, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg into a blender.
  2. Blend until you get a smooth consistency, you need it to be slightly runny if it’s too thick add a dash of milk
  3. Cut your blueberries in half and stir them into the mixture.
  4. Heat a frying pan to a medium heat and add a dash of oil
  5. Once it’s hot, it’s time to get cooking, get fancy with it – show off your pancake flipping skills
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Macros:

Calories (kcal): 365
Carbohydrates (g): 72
Fat (g): 5
Protein (g): 15

Pumpkin Soup

There’s nothing spooky about this pumpkin soup. Growing up in a Jamaican household we don’t really do much celebrating for Halloween, but while the rest of the country is carving pumpkins, we’re cooking pumpkin soup. So I’m going to let you in and show you this secret winter recipe. It’s time to get rid of all that trick or treat chocolate and let the flava into your life!

Soup is a staple of any good Carribean kitchen, we can *Jamaican accent* ‘tek anyting an mek soup’. So over the winter months, I’m going to share a variety of different Flavas, hit that follow button and go check out my Instagram, so you don’t miss out. But we’re going to start with one that’s super easy to make and tastes amazing!

Ingredients

  • 400g Pumpkin
  • 40g Coconut Milk
  • A Clove of Garlic
  • A Finger Chilli (for some spice!)
  • A Stock Cube
  • Dried Thyme
  • Black Pepper

Method

  1. Peel, dice and boil your pumpkin for 10-15 minutes
  2. Drain the water from your pan and add your coconut milk, garlic, chilli and stock cube.
  3. Blend the contents of your pan until it’s smooth, like an 80’s jazz band
  4. Add your stock cube, thyme and black pepper
  5. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring it occasionally
  6. Serve and enjoy the flava

Macros

Calories (kcal): 140
Carbohydrates (g): 18
Fats (g): 6
Protein (g): 2