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

Supplements or Nah?

Volume 1 – Protein

Protein, Creatine, Pre-workout there are tons of supplements out there. Supplements to help you gain muscle, lose fat, train harder whatever you want to achieve, there’s a supplement for that.

With so much out there it’s hard to know what’s useful and what’s useless! In this series of blogs, I’m going to address some of the big dogs of the supplement world, their benefits, their drawbacks and whether you should be investing in them.

Protein

Perhaps the first supplement most people reach for on their fitness journey, because to get big you need to be hitting that protein powder after every workout right?

What is protein?
Protein is one of the 3 key macronutrients your body needs to survive, its made up of building blocks called amino acids, 20 in total 12 of which can be produced by the body, 8 must be sourced from the diet. Proteins provide structure to the cells of the human body and importantly they are essential in the building and repair of muscle tissue. For most people, meat will be a key source of protein, produce such as beef and eggs are rich in essential amino acids, however, protein can also be sourced from plant-based products such as soy.

So how much protein do you need?
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is between 0.8g – 1.2/kg b.w. This means for most people reading this it is unlikely you will be deficient in protein. However, if you are in the gym trying to make some gains, you might want to have a little extra, more protein = more gains? Well to a certain point yes, Phillps (2013) recommends 1.4 – 1.6g/kg b.w. for those engaging in resistance training with the goal of building muscle. So for an 80kg person, this would amount to 112 to 128g of protein per day. For some context, this is roughly 2 chicken breasts, 4 eggs and a piece of salmon, so easily attainable baring in mind you will also get some protein in smaller quantities from other foods such as rice and bread.

No Whey Bro!
Even though they’re many types of protein supplements on offer today we are going to talk to talk about the most commonly used one. Whey protein is a milk-based protein, you’ll usually find it in powdered form.
Whey is a popular choice because it’s high in essential amino acids which is important for any good protein, it digests quickly and it’s relatively cheap.

Benefits

  1. It’s Quick – Every nutritionist worth they’re salt will preach to you it’s a food first approach. Supplements are just that, a supplement, something to be added, they are not a replacement. However there are times when you don’t have time to get a meal, you might be at work or on the go. A protein shake is a quick, easy way to get some dietary protein in.
  2. It’s Filling – if fat loss is your goal, protein is your friend for two main reasons, it’s going to help you preserve lean mass, there is some research to show it may be beneficial to consume up to 2g/kg b.w. of protein when in a caloric deficit. It will also help fill you up making you less likely to go raid the cookie jar. Which is obviously very helpful when you’re trying to get lean.
  3. It’s Versatile – Whey protein can be consumed as a drink but it can also be used as an ingredient in tons of recipes from pancakes to cookies, there are tons of great blogs, cookbooks and websites that will give you great recipes you can make with your whey protein. If that’s something you want to see more of let me know in the comments and I will whip up some stuff in the kitchen and share that with you all.

Drawbacks

  1. Varying quality – Depending on the brand of protein you go for there are huge variances in the quality of the protein you will get. Accurate labelling has been a problem in the supplement industry since there has been a supplement industry and protein is not exempt from this so it’s difficult to ensure that 25g or protein they claim on the bottle is true.
  2. Safety – I’m not trying to scare anyone and for the most part whey protein is a very safe supplement. However, there have been multiple reported cases of athletes getting busted for doping in relation to supplements they are taking and for banned substances appearing in supplements. There is a risk with every supplement, as mentioned above labelling is not always accurate and not every company is as diligent in there testing. So when you are looking for supplements to take it’s important to choose a reputable brand with rigorous testing procedures. If you are a drug tested athlete you should be taking supplements from tested batches in order to make sure you don’t get caught out and for your health in general.
  3. Cost – Depending on your brand of choice 1kg of whey protein can cost you anything from £20 – £45 for which you’d get roughly 40 servings which may last you just over a month with daily use. Depending on your budget this could be a significant cost to you. Especially considering the amount of actual food you can buy for a similar cost.

Is it worth the investment?
It depends – I am not going to be the one to say it’s useless, I think it’s a great supplement. If you are often on the go or you just can’t stomach that extra meal, whey protein is a great way to get that extra little bit of protein into your body. However, you still need to eat and there is never going to be a replacement for eating well (nothing legal anyway) that’s going to get you the same results. If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, way before you start ordering tons of powder you need to get your meals in order, get some training under your belt and then you can start really considering whether whey protein is the right investment for you.

What do you think? Are you heading straight to the shops to get your protein fix or is it just one big scam? Let me know in the comments!

Learn More/Sources

PROTEIN CONSUMPTION AND RESISTANCE EXERCISE: MAXIMIZING ANABOLIC POTENTIAL

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT FOR ATHLETES AND ACTIVE INDIVIDUALS

The only 5 exercises you need EVER!

There are thousands of different exercises out there, and it can be intimidating, going into the gym for the first time and not knowing where to start. Instagram is a minefield of people in great shape… giving out bad advice. It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else seems to be doing and never make any progress. 

So what should you be doing? What makes a ‘good’ exercise? Firstly, it’s important to state that the only good exercise is the one your doing, cliche but something is better than nothing so just get moving. However, if your goal is to build muscle, get stronger, perform better, not all exercises are created equal. There are three key aspects of any good exercise…

It’s a Compound Movement – This means there is movement at multiple joints throughout the exercise and you work multiple groups of muscles. You’re not going to find any bicep curls or delt flys on this list, they have their place but they are not the foundation of an optimal programme. 

It can be Progressively Overloaded – Building muscle and getting stronger requires you to constantly work harder, lift more, do more reps. There are no booty bands on this list because what do you do once that heavy band isn’t heavy for you anymore, just call it a day for your progress? The sky is the limit for how much you can progressively overload these movements. 

It’s Simple – this is subjective of course. These movements do take some time to learn and it is 100% worth learning them properly, get a coach, watch tutorials, whatever you need to do. However, these movements aren’t so technical that it will take you months or years to learn to do them safely. 

5. Pull Up 

The king of all bodyweight exercises, the humble pull up should be a staple in any programme, whether your goal is strength, aesthetics or performance. Want to grow a big back, hit those pull-ups and develop your lats, traps and biceps simultaneously all while getting stronger.  It’s so versatile, the strength you gain will transfer into your other big lifts like your bench press and deadlift and it can be easily scaled to make it easier or harder depending on your level of ability. 

4. Power Clean

Jump higher, run faster, squat more, this exercise here does it all. It’s a little bit more complex to learn and it may take some time but that investment pays off big time. This is my number 1 performance exercise for any athletes looking to increase their explosive power, the power clean works on producing high amounts of force through the ‘triple extension’ of the hips, knees and ankles, which is a movement pattern we also see mimicked within almost all sports.  

3. Bench Press

What do you bench bro? Bench press might seem like it’s just the ultimate demonstration of gym bro life. And it is… but it’s also one of the best ways to build upper body strength and muscle. It will help build your chest, triceps and anterior (front) deltoids, as well as increasing your overall pressing strength. A strong bench press will give you a solid foundation on which to build an impressive upper body.

2. Deadlift

This movement might well be the ultimate test of strength, how much can you pick back up and put down again. The deadlift is a true full body movement, it engages almost every major muscle group in the body, this makes it a great exercise for adding a few pounds of muscle. It also has a huge functional impact, even though as humans we now spend a lot more time in front of a computer than doing any sort of manual labour, picking stuff up still remains an essential part of our existence, being accustomed to the deadlift is going to help with this. 
*Bonus benefit – Strong, round, powerful glutes! Guy or girl everyone wants that peachy booty 

1. Squat

The squat, you know you should be doing it, but somehow you still try to avoid it. Squats put huge amounts of stress on the lower body and will help you build those legs and glutes you’ve always dreamed of. Performed properly the squat will also help you develop core strength and mobility in the lower body, which is essential for injury prevention and overall functionality. The squat is a movement that we learn at a young age and we need to perform all the way through to old age, from getting out of the sofa to getting off the toilet the squat is everywhere, so it should definitely be in your gym routine. 

There you have it, these exercises are a great place to start your fitness journey, you might well want to branch out and try some new things as you get years of training under your belt or as your goals get more specific but these exercises will provide everything you need to be a beast, look great and be strong as hell! I’ve added links to helpful videos of how to perform each movement, so go check those out if you want to learn more. I’ve tried to keep it super simple but let me know if you want to hear some of the science and reasoning around why these exercises are so effective and I can make that happen. 

Let me know, do you agree with my list or have I missed something? Comment below let’s have a little debate!

Subscribe to the blog to stay up to date with all things Fitness n Flava loads of great content coming in the new year so watch the space. 

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

Jamaican Browned Stew Fish

Inspired by my recent trip to Jamaica, I’m coming back to the blog with some real Caribbean cooking. I spent a lot of time living it up by the beach and tasting everything the ocean had to offer, this has to be one of my favourite meals from the trip. I’m going to recreate it for you all. So you can bring the Flava into your life.

This recipe shows what fitness n flava is all about. Delicious food that will help you stay on track towards your fitness goals. Fish is a great source of Omega 3, Vitamin D and many other minerals. Helping to do everything from lowering blood pressure and improving brain function to reducing inflammation in your joints. This is definitely a recipe to add to your meal prep rotation.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole fresh fish (in Jamaica Snapper is a favourite, I’ll be using Sea Bass)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1/2 Sweet Pepper
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1/2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Vinegar
  • All Purpose Seasoning
  • Vegetable Stock Cube
  • A Dash of Pimento/Allspice
  • Thyme
  • 50ml Coconut Milk

Method

  1. Make sure your fish is scaled and clean your fish, you can get the fishmonger to do this, it saves time or you can cook the recipe with fish filets.
  2. Rub down the fish with vinegar.
  3. Chop your onions, pepper and scotch bonnet, slice all of these into rings.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a frying pan and cook these of a low heat for 5-7 minutes
  5. Once these are cooked remove them from the pan and place them to the side.
  6. Lightly dust your fish with some all-purpose seasoning on both sides.
  7. Using the same oil you cooking you fresh seasonings in, fry the fish for approximately 5 minutes each side (Until cooked)
  8. Slice your tomato and dice your garlic then add these to the pan along with the fresh seasoning prepared earlier.
  9. Add 1 cup of water along with your thyme, coconut milk, stock cube and pimento.
  10. Let is all simmer for 8 minutes
  11. Serve and enjoy!