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Creatine: the VERY basics

23 Sep

The creatine molecule

So I’ve been going to the gym for years now and taking protein shakes. I’ve seen creatine on the shelves of health shops like Holland & Barratt and GNC, but never really looked into what it does, or what it is used for.

So after a little research, here is what I know.

Creatine is an amino acid which helps build muscle and is used to power high intensity muscle contractions. It’s widely taken as a supplement in the form of powders and capsules, but it is also present in red meats and produced by the body’s major organs.

In practical terms creatine helps you push heavier weights and complete more reps, thus building muscle mass. It also helps you complete intense aerobic exercises, such as sprinting, rowing and cycling.

Depending on the brand and type of creatine you take, dosages will vary. However it’s important not to go over the RDA, as creatine can put stress on the kidneys and as such people with medical conditions that could be effected by this should consult their doctor before using the creatine.

Once you’ve decided to take creatine it’s important to look at any other sports nutrition supplements you take, to ensure they don’t contain any creatine as this will count toward your RDA.

There are a few different types of creatine, with the most common being creatine monohydrate.  For more information on the different types of creatine and their benefits visit Best Creatine Supplement Review.

For now I’m going to continue to discuss creatine monohydrate as this is the most commonly available and seems to be the entry level form of creatine supplement from my review of supplement forums. There are two phases to taking creatine monohydrate, the loading phase, which is followed by the maintainance phase. The first phase consists of taking creatine up to four times a day to saturate your muscles. In the second phase you simply top up your creatine levels with 1 -2 scoops a day. Though you should always read the directions on the label as different products will vary. Bodybuilding.com has more information on creatine loading by body weight.

Always remember to stay hydrated as creatine will direct water away from major organs and into muscles. If taken without water, creatine use can lead to stomach cramps. A good rule of thumb is to drink a pint of water with each dose.

Hope this helps,

Good luck and good health,

Ni, the Supplementer

Sushi – things to make and do

17 Sep

I’ve always been a bit of a Japan-o-phile and as such, a lover of sushi. I’ve tried many different places and if you’re looking to get some great and affordable food you could do a lot worse than go to the Japan Centre in London.

But how healthy is sushi and is it easy to make I asked myself. It looks pretty healthy and simple enough…

Well thanks to a sushi making class at Suzu and some desk research I have the answers I was looking for. 

Firstly the health.

On the up side:

Very loosely speaking, sushi is a combination of rice and seaweed topped off with raw fish and/or veg, so far, so good.

Fish is a great source of protein and is lean and low in saturated fats and cholesterol, making it good for your heart. Salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

Nori, the pressed seaweed sheets wrapped around the rice contain iodine, which is good for hormone function, magnesium, which helps build strong bones and iron which is used in the production of red blood cells  and helps stave off fatigue.  

Things to consider:

While a lot of sushi is healthy you need to watch out for mayonnaise and tempura  which are a source of hidden calories and fats. Also keep soy sauce to a minimum as it’s high in sodium, which counteracts the omega-3’s positive effect on the heart. Wasabi is OK, so if you like spice pile it on.

Fish can also contain high levels of mercury, which is a toxin, however the health benefits of fish far outweigh the risks, just don’t go overboard and be careful if you are pregnant.

Now the cooking, or not as the case may be…

I arrived at the class of around 15 people and sat at a place, which was set out with a rolling mat, some nori, salmon, avacado and cucumber, everything we needed to get started, well nearly.

After a brief introduction from our teacher, we were told how to make the sushi rice.

Making the sushi rice:

Start with three cups of rice, 660ml of water and 120ml of sushi vinegar

1. wash the rice some cold water

2. leave the rice in a sieve for a minimum of 30 minutes

3. put the rice in a pot with the water

4. cook on a medium heat for 10-13 minutes

5. Once the water has boiled turn down the heat and cook for 30 seconds

6. turn off the heat and leave for 10-15 minutes

7. drain rice

8. add the sushi vinegar spoon by spoon gently stirring

9. once the vinegar is completely soaked in leave the rice to dry

10. leave for a final 10 – 15 minutes

Preparing the sushi

We started with the seaweed on the sushi mat and spread a thin layer of rice over the nori, making sure it was evenly covered, with a gap at the top the width of our little finger. We then placed the cucumber horizontally along the middle and rolled the edge which had been covered in rice just over the cucumber so that it touched the rice. We then placed the mat on top of the rolled section holding the end with our left hands and pulling it away from us while pushing it down with our right hands, thus making a full roll. From there we simply cut the large roll into smaller maki.

The next lot of sushi was much more simple. We took a cherry sized lump of rice and put it into the crook of our fingers and squeezed it into a small oval shape. We then put a thin slice of salmon in the crook of our finger and put the rice on top and pushed the two together using the other hand.

We also went onto make california rolls, which were very similar to maki, but turning the nori and rice strip over before laying on the toppings.

So that’s what I’ve found out about sushi

Hope you like it

Good luck and good health,

Ni, the Supplementer

If you’re going to… eat ice cream

23 Jul

NOM!! Green tea Snog with watermelon

Whilst aimlessly wandering the streets of London with a friend, discussing our blogs, we stumbled across Snog, the frozen yoghurt bar.

I’ve never really tried ‘fro-yo’ as they call it, but I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised and what’s more it’s much better for you than ice cream.

Not quite knowing how the ordering system worked, I jumped straight in and asked for a green tea (there are three flavours, green tea, plain and chocolate).

Then there’s the toppings, there’s a great, healthy selection, including kiwi fruit, blueberries, strawberries, banana, nuts, etc. I chose watermelon, which has just been added to the menu this summer according to the Snogblog.

It tasted amazing and by choosing snog I saved 20 kcals and 1.5g of fat per 100g! Plus all the ‘frogurt’ is sweetened with agave nectar – so it’s sugar-free.

Here’s how the nutritional values of green tea frozen yogurt stack up per 100g

Energy: 97kcals

Protein: 3.56g

Carbohydrates: 20.5g

Fat: 0.2g

Fiber: 0.5g

What’s more the bar had a great layout and art, providing a perfect place to catch up with my friends.

So if you’re going to eat ice cream, try having a Snog instead!

Enjoy,

Ni, the Supplementer

Some of the fantastic art in Snog Soho