Often thought of just a bodybuilding supplement, years of research show that Creatine is more than just a sports supplement. There’s benefits not just to workouts, but brain function, heart health and more recently, potential benefits to arthritis.
But what is Creatine exactly?
Creatine is a nutrient naturally found in all our bodies. It is a combination of 3 amino acids; arginine, glycine and methionine. Creatine helps provide the energy our muscles need to move, particularly quick and explosive movements. Muscle contraction is initially fueled by ATP (adenosine-triphosphate ).
Nevertheless, like every other non-FDA sanctioned properties, there are concerns that Creatine is unsafe.
Some of the reported side effects of taking Creatine are:
harm to kidney, liver, or heart functions
stroke risk when combing with caffeine or herb ephedra (also called Ma Huang)
skin condition called pigmented purpuric dermatosis
water weight gain
increase the production of formaldehyde
After reading the short list above, you might think Creatine is the most unsafe supplement on the planet and how could or would anybody want to take this?
Because side effects of taking Creatine as listed above are non-conclusive and no studies prove the linkage from the use of Creatine to the above reported side effects.
The Dangers of Creatine by Will Brink
While it is true you will gain some water weight while on Creatine, that is because the cells are retaining more water with the usage. That’s not a negative. It’s also true that you can experience some stomach discomfort and/or diarrhea if you take too much of the product. Stick to the recommendations. More is not better.
But did you know there have been some deaths from Creatine supplementation?
There have been some reported deaths from the use of Creatine. In one case, the person took significantly more than the recommended amount for an extended period of time and in the others the individuals had pre-existing kidney (renal) problems.
If you have kidney problems or diabetes, Creatine supplementation is not recommended.
If you do not want to drink fluids (water) and keep properly hydrated, Creatine supplementation is not recommended.
If you cannot or will not follow dosage recommendations, Creatine supplementation is not recommended.
Otherwise, this is one of the most beneficial and safe supplements next to protein and water. While roughly 30% of the population is non-responsive to Creatine supplementation, the benefits far outweigh the reported side effects which have little to no research behind them. In fact, many have been disproved but are still listed as side effects of taking Creatine on thousands of websites.
Download Your Free Creatine Report
I am giving away a 43-page special report, ‘The Creatine Report’. You will learn: what creatine is and how it works, and what it may do for you. This excellent free report exposes the facts and fiction of Creatine, and details it’s effects on the brain, heart, the body’s production of growth hormone, anti-aging effects, fatigue, muscle atrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and much more!
The Creatine Report
This Creatine report by Will Brink will cover much of what creatine has to offer as a safe and inexpensive supplement with an exceptionally wide range of potential uses.
Marc David – CPT “The NoBull Muscle Guy” Author of NoBull Bodybuilding
I would bet that without even thinking, you could name 4 or 5 diets or eating plans that are in the popular media…Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Atkins, South Beach, etc. Every time you turn around, there’s a fantastic “new” approach to eating. It’s enough to make your head spin!
But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. I’ve got some easy-to-follow basic nutrition principles that will help keep you on the right track. Beginner or advanced, these will work for you!
1. Focus your eating on natural, unprocessed foods as much as possible.
While I know it’s not always possible to get fresh fruit and veggies and other unprocessed foods everywhere you go, your body will always respond best when you feed it foods that are not altered through processing. Your body has evolved over thousands and thousands of years to process foods in their natural state – it’s only relatively recently that processed foods have appeared on the scene.
Your body has the digestive mechanisms for efficiently processing foods in their natural state. When you add in the fats, salt, sugar, additives, etc., your body starts having a hard time digesting and coping. Think of it like trying to put regular gas into a vehicle that runs on diesel. It may run, but it’s not going to be very efficient with the fuel and it could cause problems down the road (no pun intended!)
Bottom Line: Eating foods that are not processed allows your body to function more efficiently. You’ll lose fat without even trying.
2. Get plenty of good quality, lean protein sources in your diet
When you’re training, your body has a much greater need for protein. During weight training and endurance training especially, your body is constantly breaking down muscle tissue. Protein is required to rebuild it. By regularly feeding your body good protein sources, you’ll be able to hold onto and build muscle mass easier.
Good sources of lean protein include meats (look for leaner cuts like sirloin), poultry, eggs (while not lean, eggs will not shoot up your cholesterol as many worry), fish, low-fat dairy, soybeans, and various legumes (beans).
As far as how much protein your body needs, this will vary according to how much you weigh and your activity level. A level of around 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight is a good guideline (we don’t count total bodyweight because fat is not metabolically active and doesn’t require protein to sustain it).
3. Don’t be afraid of “good” fats
Fats can be extremely beneficial, even when you’re trying to lose weight! Fats are important in a tremendous variety of bodily processes including hormone production, immunity, joint and organ protection, and even burning bodyfat. Without the “good” fats, your body will not function as well as it could.
“Good” fats include sources such as fish, nuts, flax oil, borage oil, and olive oil (there are many other good sources as well). Increasing your intake of these good fats can help keep you feeling good and burning your own bodyfat more efficiently.
Your total fat intake should be around 30% of your daily calories. A good way to go about getting this is to try and keep your focus primarily on low-fat foods while purposefully adding the “good” fats into your diet (like eating a few almonds every day or taking fish oil or flax oil capsules).
4. Carbs are fine
Despite all the talk about carbs being the enemy, it’s important to note that carbs and foods that contain carbs can actually be quite good for you! It’s generally the refined sugar added to foods that is the problem, not the carbohydrate as a nutrient on its own.
5. Non-nutritious foods should be minimized
This is an easy one. More than likely, you already know that you shouldn’t be eating Cheesy-Poofs or chocolate bars 3 meals a day. The calories you get from these foods don’t come with any actual nutrients. When your body is missing nutrients, it craves more food (not to mention the insulin response to the sugar in many of these foods) and you tend to eat more of the poor food that doesn’t have nutrients in it.
It’s ironic to think that many overweight people are actually malnourished! When you eat nutrient-dense foods, your body gets the nutrients it needs and functions much better.
5. Salads, fruits and vegetables will give you lots of fiber, roughage and nutrition
Eat plenty of salads, fruits and veggies every day. This is usually one that everybody already knows yet doesn’t normally focus on. The fiber in the foods helps keep you from getting too hungry and helps keep your digestive system clean.
6. Just do the best you can
It’s not always easy or convenient to follow good eating principles. There are plenty of tasty temptations to be found every time you turn around.
The REAL key to proper nutrition is to focus on trying to do well MOST of the time, not all of the time. It’s what you do most of the time that will give you the long-term results you’re looking for. Determining that you MUST be perfect all of the time is a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment when the time comes that you don’t eat a perfectly healthy food choice.
Sometimes, you just have to eat those Cheesy Poofs and not worry about it.
About the Author:Nick Nilsson has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been innovating new training techniques for more than 18 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding books including “Muscle Explosion! 28 Days To Maximum Mass”, “Metabolic Surge – Rapid Fat Loss,” “The Best Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of,” “Gluteus to the Maximus – Build a Bigger Butt NOW!” and “The Best Abdominal Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of”, all designed to maximize the results you get for the hard work you put into your training.
Be sure to grab your FREE copy of Nick’s 30-day “Dirty Little Secret Program for Building Muscle and Burning Fat FAST,”
One question that is popping up all over the bodybuilding space is the question is meal frequency. Not just meal timing, just the basic question of how many times do I need to eat per day?
Just the other day I received this note …. (for you who can’t read, I’m not saying this, I said I received this)
No study has ever confirmed that it is more efficient to eat 6 small meals as opposed to 3 big meals (or even 2!) in terms of body composition results.
Are those six meals a day I’ve heard about really necessary? People have been told for some time that in order to build muscle and gain weight, they need to be eating. In the past, you’ve probably heard that eating more frequent meals is has a thermodynamic effect and you will burn more fat by eating more often. ( A study done in 2010 disproves this assumption)
But is this dogma true? First, let’s examine the short list of frequent meals. This list is by no means definitive.
Benefits of More Meals Per Day:
frequent eating and tight control of within day energy balance help to control insulin
personal observation (not scientific but not irrelevant either)
higher meal frequency is important from a cortisol control standpoint
Drawbacks to More Meals Per Day:
too much eating
burden to carry so much food around
preparation for the amount of food
not necessary to achieve the proper amount of total daily calories
not necessary for the current level of athletic training
” If eating 5-6 times a day helps control your appetite and easily hit your calorie goals, if it gives you more energy, keeps you satisfied all day long and you enjoy it – then that’s the way to go. If eating bodybuilder-style with 5 or 6 whole food meals a day is a burden to you with the food prep and time spent eating, or it makes it harder to stick with your plan, not easier, then you’re better off with 3 or 4 meals a day or 3 meals with snacks.” – Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle
To take Tom Venuto’s statement a bit further here’s what Dr. Dan Benardot, PhD., RD, LD, FACSM, and author of Advanced Sports Nutrition says on the meal frequency subject…
“There is a limit to how much energy (i.e., calories) the body can handle properly at one time. By satisfying our total energy requirements through infrequent eating opportunities, this limit is passed and problems occur. In addition, infrequent eating does nothing to address normal blood sugar fluctuation. Blood sugar peaks about one hour after eating, and is back to pre-meal levels about two hours after that. That means that we can expect a normal range of blood sugar for about three hours. Unless something is consumed to satisfy the need for blood sugar every three hours, gluconeogenesis can result with a loss of lean mass.”
“A dedicated bodybuilder should eat at least five times a day and space those meals no further than three hours apart. I have found eating smaller, more frequent meals, or in other words “grazing” throughout the day, is the most efficient way for my body to process food.” – SkipLaCour; six-time national drug-free champion bodybuilder; author of Bodybuilding Nutrition
Will Brink, author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and author of Bodybuilding Revealed & Fat Loss Revealed weights in with an excellent video on the subject.
Do You Need to Eat Six Times a Day or More?
At this point, I hope you are not confused! What I’ve found is that first and foremost you must get your required number of calories per day to reach your goals. After that, meal timing becomes important given your activities in the next hours. You do not need to eat more frequent meals IF your blood sugar is in control and your appetite is fine.
Signs of Hunger:
loss of focus and inability to concentrate
If you are NOT engaging in high intensity training or activities that require some type of re-fueling OR if you are taking a training break OR sedentary, then 3 meals a day would probably be just fine.
However, if you want to optimize performance, be your best at your intense workouts, perform longer duration activities, then don’t get caught in the trap of controversy that says multiple meals (maybe 5 maybe more) is not necessary. Or that there’s no evidence via studies to show that multiple meals has an affect on body composition.
In fact it IS and there are SEVERAL studies (listed below) that prove this.
Going by personal experience, as should you in this case, if you find yourself getting light-headed and you feel like you want to grab the closest candy bar, you are probably experiencing some significant swings in insulin. Having more frequent meals helps control this issue and it’s why I like having 5-6 meals per day. I’m able to eat at a 15% calorie deficit when cutting without going crazy with hunger or insulin making me make horrible choices out of desperation.
However, if you eat 3 times a day maybe a snack or two and get your calories in per day, have energy for your activity and you experience NONE of the hunger swings or cravings, you simply don’t need more meals per day.
I am a fan of frequent eating but is it absolutely 100% necessary?
The answer is you should customize your meal frequency!
Meal Frequency can be affected by:
So YOUR meal frequency really needs to be customized to your situation based on the benefits and drawbacks listed above in addition to your personal situation.
In the meantime, based on the research and several experts in the field of nutrition and bodybuilding listed here on subject, I’ll continue to eat my six bodybuilding style meals per day.
I’d love to know what you think on this subject.
Marc David – CPT “The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding
Additional Resources and Studies on Meal Frequency
Meal Frequency: International Society of Sports Nutrition
Meal Frequency and Energy Balance by Lyle McDonald
Researchers Look at How Frequency of Meals May Affect Health
Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity
Meal frequency and energy balance
Meal Frequency and Weight Loss by Dr. Christopher Mohr
Optimal Protein Intake And Meal Frequency To Support Maximal Protein Synthesis and Muscle Mass by Dr. Layne Norton
Effects of meal frequency on body composition during weight control in boxers
Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency
The relationship between frequency of eating and adiposity in adult men and women in the Tecumseh Community Health Study
Effect of meal frequency and timing on physical performance
What you are looking in the photo above is called Mustard Roasted Chicken from a book called Anabolic Cooking. It’s prepared and ready to go into the oven!
Frankly, the Anabolic Cooking book I mention may not be for everyone.
For example, if you are a head chef at a restaurant and you already make extensive food dishes, these recipes might give you a chuckle. But if you are like most of us “kitchen-phobic” bodybuilders or just the 90% of the population that might want to eat healthier but simply is scared off by the word cooking… or has no idea where to start… or hates the idea …
Then the Anabolic Cooking book might be just what you need. For starters, here’s another fantastic easy bake chicken recipe. For years I had two types of chicken that I would make for my bodybuilding meals:
* plain chicken
* lemon pepper chicken
Fact is, I didn’t know how to cook, I wasn’t interested in spending hours in the kitchen making elaborate meals and I thought it was nearly impossible to really taste up chicken without screwing up my macro-nutrient ratios.
Until I discovered that cooking chicken in a variety of ways can be simple, healthy and tasty. The mustard roasted chicken recipe will soon become a favorite I am sure of it.
This takes little time to prepare, it cooks quickly, tastes delicious, keeps the chicken moist AND you can make a big batch of it and use it during the week for your protein needs.
Here is how you make the easy baked chicken recipe called Mustard Chicken from the Anabolic Cooking book by Dave Ruel.
4 skinless chicken breasts (6oz each)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Marc’s Notes:I used dried parsley for even quicker preparation or if you don’t have any fresh parsley at the time. Dried will make it less of a fresh parsley taste but it gets the job done.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Combine mustard and parsley in a bowl
Arrange chicken breasts, skin side up, in a shallow baking pan
Brush with mustard mixture.
Sprinkle with paprika
Bake 30 minutes or until cooked
Marc’s Notes:Depending on your oven, the cooking times may vary. I’ve found that 350 degrees F for 30 minutes is more than enough. I use a baking sheet and place tin foil along the bottom as you see in the photo above. Try it both ways and see what you like.
Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or to time consuming. You can prep a meal like this and have it cooked and stored in 45 minutes or less. Depending on how much chicken you make, you’ll have enough protein for every meal of the day.
Try this easy baked chicken recipe and let me know your comments below.