If you were to ask any dietitian, nutritionist or sports performance coach about the negative side effect of creatine, they would be silent. Creatine has only produced positive results despite what many may have heard.
Creatine is a substance made up of three amino acids and is stored in the muscle and brain. It gets turned into phosphocreatine providing energy to the working muscles.
It is found naturally in foods like seafood and red meat and can be purchased as a supplement. Creatine is widely popular and accepted among athletic and sports communities. It is generally recognized as a safe supplement to consume to improve muscle performance.
Creatine itself doesn’t improve performance but it does improve energy levels produced by the muscle. So an individual who uses creatine might be able to do an extra set of bench press, or push out one extra rep, increasing their work efforts which in turn
increases muscle strength and ultimately performance.
Creatine is one of the most widely researched and commonly used ergogenic aids. It helps in increasing energy in your muscle but also helps increase muscle mass by several mechanisms. In addition to increasing overall workload due to increased energy, it also can increase cell signaling to repair muscles and reducing muscle breakdown. Creatine can also increase cell hydration by pulling water into muscle cells also contributing to the appearance of muscle growth.
There are several studies showing an increase production of phosphocreatine in the brain helping to improve brain health and many neurological diseases. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ischemic stroke, epilepsy, and overall brain and memory function in older adults.
There is also research on vegetarians supplementing with creatine showing improvements in memory. While more research needs to be done on humans to investigate the benefits creatine supplementation on the brain, we do know it can enhance athletic performance, strength, and muscle size.
Creatine is found naturally in meats and fish such as beef, pork, herring, salmon, and cod as well as milk. Creatine monohydrate is the best option for supplementation despite other product claims for different forms being superior. Evidence does not support other creatine supplements providing more benefit than the low-cost creatine monohydrate. It is important to stay hydrated when taking this supplement and always consult a doctor if there are preexisting conditions in the liver and kidneys.
A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables.
There are many different types of low-carb diets, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve health.
This is a detailed meal plan for a low-carb diet. What to eat, what to avoid and a sample low-carb menu for one week.
A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan
What foods you should eat depends on a few things, including how healthy you are, how much you exercise and how much weight you have to lose.
Consider all of this as a general guideline, not something written in stone.
Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils and maybe even some tubers and non-gluten grains.
Don’t Eat: Sugar, HFCS, wheat, seed oils, trans fats, “diet” and low-fat products and highly processed foods.
Foods to Avoid
You should avoid these 7 foods, in order of importance:
- Sugar:Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream and many others.
- Gluten Grains:Wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Includes breads and pastas.
- Trans Fats:“Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
- High Omega-6 Seed- and Vegetable Oils:Cottonseed-, soybean-, sunflower-, grapeseed-, corn-, safflower and canola oils.
- Artificial Sweeteners:Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. Use Stevia instead.
- “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products:Many dairy products, cereals, crackers, etc.
- Highly Processed Foods:If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.
You MUST read ingredients lists, even on foods labelled as “health foods.”
Low Carb Food List – Foods to Eat
You should base your diet on these real, unprocessed, low-carb foods.
- Meat:Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and others. Grass-fed is best.
- Fish:Salmon, trout, haddock and many others. Wild-caught fish is best.
- Eggs:Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
- Vegetables:Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and many others.
- Fruits:Apples, oranges, pears, blueberries, strawberries.
- Nuts and Seeds:Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
- High-Fat Dairy:Cheese, butter, heavy cream, yogurt.
- Fats and Oils:Coconut oil, butter, lard, olive oil and cod fish liver oil.
If you need to lose weight, be careful with the cheese and nuts because they’re easy to overeat on. Don’t eat more than one piece of fruit per day.
If you’re healthy, active and don’t need to lose weight then you can afford to eat a bit more carbs.
- Tubers:Potatoes, sweet potatoes and some others.
- Non-gluten grains:Rice, oats, quinoa and many others.
- Legumes:Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, etc. (If you can tolerate them).
You can have these in moderation if you want:
- Dark Chocolate:Choose organic brands with 70% cocoa or higher.
- Wine:Choose dry wines with no added sugar or carbs.
Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and may provide health benefits if you eat it in moderation. However, be aware that both dark chocolate and alcohol will hinder your progress if you eat/drink too much.
A Sample Low-Carb Menu for One Week
This is a sample menu for one week on a low carb diet plan.
It provides less than 50 grams of total carbs per day, but as I mentioned above if you are healthy and active you can go beyond that.
- Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
- Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with blueberries and a handful of almonds.
- Dinner:Cheeseburger (no bun), served with vegetables and salsa sauce.
- Breakfast:Bacon and eggs.
- Lunch:Leftover burgers and veggies from the night before.
- Dinner:Salmon with butter and vegetables.
- Breakfast:Eggs and vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
- Lunch:Shrimp salad with some olive oil.
- Dinner:Grilled chicken with vegetables.
- Breakfast:Omelet with various vegetables, fried in butter or coconut oil.
- Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, berries, almonds and protein powder.
- Dinner:Steak and veggies.
- Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
- Lunch:Chicken salad with some olive oil.
- Dinner:Pork chops with vegetables.
- Breakfast:Omelet with various veggies.
- Lunch:Grass-fed yogurt with berries, coconut flakes and a handful of walnuts.
- Dinner:Meatballs with vegetables.
- Breakfast:Bacon and Eggs.
- Lunch:Smoothie with coconut milk, a bit of heavy cream, chocolate-flavored protein powder and berries.
- Dinner:Grilled chicken wings with some raw spinach (salad) on the side.
Include plenty of low-carb vegetables in your diet. If your goal is to remain under 50 grams of carbs per day, then there is room for plenty of veggies and one fruit per day.
If you want to see examples of some of my go-to meals, read this:
7 Healthy Low-Carb Meals in Under 10 Minutes.
Again, if you’re healthy, lean and active, you can add some tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as some healthier grains like rice and oats.
Some Healthy, Low-Carb Snacks
There is no health reason to eat more than 3 meals per day, but if you get hungry between meals then here are some healthy, easy to prepare low-carb snacks that can fill you up:
- A Piece of Fruit
- Full-fat Yogurt
- A Hard-Boiled Egg or Two
- Baby Carrots
- Leftovers From The Night Before
- A Handful of Nuts
- Some Cheese and Meat
Eating at Restaurants
At most restaurants, it is fairly easy to make your meals low carb-friendly.
- Order a meat- or fish-based main dish.
- Ask them to fry your food in real butter.
- Get extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.
A Simple Low-Carb Shopping List
A good rule is to shop at the perimeter of the store, where the whole foods are likelier to be found.
Organic and grass-fed foods are best, but only if you can easily afford them. Even if you don’t buy organic, your diet will still be a thousand times better than the standard western diet.
Try to choose the least processed option that still fits into your price range.
- Meat (Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, bacon)
- Fish (Fatty fish like salmon is best)
- Eggs (Choose Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs if you can)
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Heavy Cream
- Sour Cream
- Yogurt (full-fat, unsweetened)
- Blueberries (can be bought frozen)
- Fresh vegetables: greens, peppers, onions, etc.
- Frozen vegetables: broccoli, carrots, various mixes.
- Salsa Sauce
- Condiments: sea salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, etc.
I recommend clearing your pantry of all unhealthy temptations if you can: chips, candy, ice cream, sodas, juices, breads, cereals and baking ingredients like wheat flour and sugar.
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid-like compound used by tens of thousands of athletes worldwide to increase their strength, power, muscle mass and explosive performance.
Despite this, creatine is still shrouded in mystery and rife with misinformation—often thanks to irresponsible journalism and media hyperbole. So, buckle up. Your previous notion of creatine is about to be blown out of the water.
Myth: Creatine is just for weightlifters and football players.
Athletes competing in sports like soccer, hockey, lacrosse and basketball can benefit from creatine, as it has been shown to reduce fatigue during repeated bouts of intense exercise. Even endurance athletes can benefit from low-dose creatine supplementation (3-5 grams per day), because it helps muscles store more glycogen, a readily available source of energy.
Myth: Creatine causes muscle cramps, pulls, strains, kidney damage and dehydration.
Not a single placebo-controlled, double-blind study of healthy athletes has ever demonstrated that creatine consumption produces these effects. In a three-year study of Division I football players, the incidence of muscle cramps, pulls/strains, tightness and dehydration was generally lower (or no different) in players taking creatine compared to those not using it.
As a side note, if you frequently cramp, eat foods rich in magnesium, potassium and sodium (especially on the day of the event), and stay hydrated.
Myth: Creatine is just for muscles.
Simple logic: creatine is found mostly in meats, so if you don’t eat meat regularly—or (gulp) not at all—you will have sub-optimal levels of creatine in your muscles and brain. According to an Australian study, vegetarians given 5 grams of creatine per day for six weeks experienced notable improvements in working memory and intelligence after the “deficiency” was corrected. In addition, at least one study suggests that creatine can improve the mood states of people who are sleep-deprived.
Also, recent research at Yale University’s School of Medicine demonstrates that creatine increases the overall energy capacity of the brain. Since a concussion often leads to a temporary alteration in the energy metabolism of the brain, athletes who supplement with creatine may reduce the severity of, and/or improve their recovery from, a concussion.
Personally, my kids use creatine and fish oil as their “nutritional headgear” during their football and soccer seasons.
Myth: Creatine monohydrate has not been studied for long-term safety.
Since 1992, hundreds of studies have been published demonstrating the safety of creatine monohydrate supplementation. My personal favorite is Creapure, which I take immediately after I work out (I take 5 grams along with a post-workout meal or shake). Use any other type of creatine that is claimed to be “superior”—for example, creatine ethyl ester, creatine malate, creatine citrate, creatine orotate—and you’re swimming in uncharted waters with no long-term safety data (insert Jaws soundtrack).
- Greenwood M., Kreider R.B., Melton C., Rasmussen C., Lancaster S., Cantler E., Milnor P., Almada A. “Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury.” Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 2003 Feb;244(1-2):83-8.
- Rae, C., Digney, A., McEwan, S., Bates, T. “Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial.” Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 2003 October 22; 270(1529): 2147–2150.
- McMorris T., et al. “Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol.” Psychopharmacology (2006) 185: 93-103.
- Pan, J.W and Takahashi, K. “Cerebral energetic effects of creatine supplementation in humans.” American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2007 April ; 292(4): R1745–R1750.
Take Charge of Your Metabolism
“Love the one your with” That would be you! You have to live with yourself 24/7/365. Wouldn’t it be nice if you loved everything about yourself?
If you are reading this, you have the ability to control almost everything about your life. What you spend your days doing, who you hang out with, what you eat, what you do for activities. The greatest thing about being you is you hold the key to happiness! So if you complain once today, then you need to take a long look in the mirror.
Ok…Let me focus on 1 thing we all have control over – Our metabolism.
Do you ever wonder how your friend can eat whatever he/she wants and not gain a pound, while you seem to gain weight by simply looking at food? The answer is in your metabolism—the way your body burns up all the calories from food.
Some people have a fast metabolism which helps keep weight off, and others have a slow metabolism, putting on weight very quickly. The good news is metabolic rate can be altered, and even sped up.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is the rate at which your body’s internal engine operates as it performs its bodily functions. The largest component of your metabolism, approximately 70%, is your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is how many calories you burn just sitting around. In other words, it is the energy used by your body to perform basic functions, such as breathing, keeping the heart beating and maintaining body temperature. As you age, your BMR decreases. Basal metabolic rates differ from person to person due to:
Genetics: A slow metabolism (you burn calories more slowly) or fast metabolism (you burn calories faster) can be inherited.
Amount of lean muscle: Muscle burns calories faster than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest.
Sex differences: Males generally have a 10 to 15% faster BMR than females because the male body has a larger percentage of lean muscle tissue.
Age: Younger people have faster metabolisms due to increased activity of cells.
Other components of your metabolism include physical activity, which accounts for about 20% of calories burned, and dietary thermogenesis, which is the number of calories required for digesting and processing the food you eat. This accounts for the remaining 10% of energy needs.
How Does This Affect My Weight?
Simply put, your metabolism affects weight management because it determines how many calories you need per day. If you have a high BMR (fast metabolism) it takes a lot of calories for your body to function; eating calorie-laden foods may not pack on the pounds for you. On the other hand, if you have a low BMR (slow metabolism), your body needs fewer calories to function. Unfortunately, for your sluggish metabolism, eating calorie-laden foods will result in weight gain.
How Can I Jump-Start my Body’s Metabolic Engine?
Follow these tips to naturally boost your metabolism:
Eat Breakfast. Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day, especially for you weight loss seekers. Research shows that those who eat breakfast lose more weight than those who skip breakfast. Your metabolism slows down while you sleep and it doesn’t speed back up until you eat again. If you don’t eat until lunchtime, your body won’t burn as many calories as it could during the morning period. Kick start your day with a balanced breakfast such as omega-3 eggs and toast or a protein shake.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day. Eating five or six smaller meals rather than three large meals helps to keep your metabolism revved up! It also helps to fill you up over the course of the day, making a binge session less likely.
Don’t starve yourself. Fasting, cutting calories and skipping meals will all help put weight ON not OFF. Your body needs a certain number of calories to function. If you don’t meet this need, your body will switch into survival mode, slow down the metabolism and promote the storage of energy (calories) in the form of fat to protect itself from starvation. Be sure get the proper number of calories for an optimal metabolism.
Exercise. Both cardiovascular exercise and weight training help to improve metabolic rate and keep weight off. Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, running, biking, swimming and aerobics, allows your body to burn a lot of calories at one time. Weight training will increase muscle mass, which burns more calories than body fat. Weight training also puts the metabolism into overdrive, so your burn calories for up to two hours after the workout.
Drink Green Tea. Research shows that green tea appears to increase metabolic rate and speed up fat oxidation. Compounds in green tea, catechin polyphenols, appear to speed up the rate at which calories are burned and therefore increase overall energy expenditure leading to weight loss!
Drink water. Not drinking enough water can slow down your metabolism. Be sure to drink at least six to eight glasses of water per day. Add a lemon slice to water for a tangy, fresh taste.
Take Supplements. If you use make-up to look better, supplements can probably do a lot more for your appearance. Even ugly pants look better on a nice pair of legs. The Supplement market is 50 Billion because they do work! Visit www.khaag.getprograde.com
Eat hormonally balanced meals. Eating in hormonal balance includes:
- Energy-dense carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits that contain fiber to help regulate your metabolism by having less impact on insulin levels.
- High quality protein, such as fish, poultry, lean meats, soy, tofu and lowfat dairy products to help build metabolism-boosting muscle mass.
- Essential fats for good health such as olive oil, avocado and nuts.
Ask for Help.
You can contact me, Kevin Haag, with any questions you have. I spend my days researching and practicing this stuff, so I can bombard you with enough emails to make you not want to eat.
When it comes to creating great abs, even the most effective workout programs can only bring you so far if you keep digging into that Halloween candy. That’s because you can’t get a flat, hard core without losing body fat. No one’s going to see your abs if they are covered by a layer of flab. (The good news? While it’s impossible to “spot-reduce,” abdominal fat is often the first to go when you start losing weight.) Here’s how to eat your way to great abs without eating 10 zone bars every day.
Most good dietary programs will lead you to eat the right foods to lose fat and get in shape. But the following seven principles can give you an extra edge and will help ensure that the effort you’re putting into your abs will bring you the results you want.
1. Get plenty of protein. Eating enough lean protein promotes fat loss and muscle gain, the two most important pieces of the “great abs” puzzle. It also helps keep you from getting hungry while you’re eating right. You don’t have to gobble down 12-ounce steaks—just eat a normal portion of lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, or vegetarian protein with every meal, and make sure your snacks contain some protein, too. If you still have a hard time getting enough in your diet, a daily shake made with Whey Protein Powder.
By the way, protein is especially important in the morning, when a lot of people don’t get as much as they should. A protein-rich breakfast will help keep your blood sugar steady for hours, preventing the dips that can lead to cravings later in the day. (Try some low-fat chicken sausage, or an omelet with one whole egg and three egg whites, along with fruit or whole-grain toast.)
2. Reconsider your carbs. Despite the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the average American meal is still too high in sugar and fast-burning starches to bring body fat down to ab-baring levels. It’s time to say goodbye to soda, ditch the chips, and save the cake for your birthday. If your fitness plan calls for a sports drink before a workout, or a carb-and-protein recovery drink after training, that’s fine. But the rest of the time, stick with foods that are on the low end of the glycemic index (refer to http://www.GlycemicIndex.com for more information)—these foods burn more slowly so they won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels.
3. Have fun with fiber. Something about the word “fiber” just doesn’t sound appetizing. But high-fiber foods can actually be quite delicious: fresh berries and other fruits, salads loaded with colorful produce, your favorite steamed vegetables or vegetable soup, stews or chili made with beans, chewy whole-grain breads and cereals . . . You get the picture. (These foods just happen to be loaded with nutrients as well.) High-fiber foods keep you fuller with fewer calories, and they help keep your digestive system working at its best—a double-whammy for getting rid of belly bulge .
4. Enjoy some yogurt. Probiotics, the healthful bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods, have been proven to help reduce belly fat. In a recent study in Finland, new mothers who took probiotic supplements averaged smaller waist circumferences and lower body fat in general, than those who didn’t take probiotic supplements. And while the topic is still controversial, studies have found that eating lots of calcium-rich dairy foods like yogurt may increase overall weight loss.
5. Don’t forget to eat. Tempted to lower your daily calorie count by skipping meals? Don’t. Going hungry can raise your levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, which research has found can increase belly fat even in otherwise thin women. And eating too infrequently can lower your metabolism and energy levels, while increasing the chance that you’ll get too hungry and decide to chuck your meal plan entirely. If you’re eating the right foods, regular meals and snacks will keep your body fueled while you’re working toward that strong core.
6. Drink more fluids. Hydration is important when you’re on a fitness plan, but drinking plenty of water has particular benefits for your midsection. It helps keep your stomach full so you don’t overeat, and it helps flush out excess sodium to prevent belly bloating. (Eating more potassium-rich foods, such as tomatoes and bananas, will also help in this area.)
Plain ol’ H20 can’t be beat, but you can also switch it up with flavored waters, iced tea, and anything else you like to drink that isn’t full of sweeteners. How much do you need? The old rule of 8 glasses a day is a good start, but everyone is different: drink more if you’re exercising or it’s hot out, and less if you’re running to the bathroom every 5 minutes.
7. . . . With two exceptions. It’s time to cut down on those mood-altering substances, coffee and alcohol. Too much caffeine raises your cortisol levels and can impair your sleep, which can lower the production of fitness-promoting hormones. Meanwhile, the proverbial “beer belly” isn’t just the result of extra calories—alcohol actually makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize carbs and fat. Booze also stimulates your appetite and lowers your inhibitions, which can lead to bingeing. The best road to flat abs is no alcohol at all, but if you really like a drink now and then, just have one at a time (and no more than a few a week), and stay away from higher-calorie beers and sugary mixed drinks.
If you add these rules to your fitness plan, you’re sure to see faster improvements in your midsection. Of course, there’s a bonus to eating this way: it’ll keep you healthier, too. That may not be as big an incentive as great abs, but we’re throwing it in for free.