June 2018

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

I decided to start this blog in June, six month into this journey. The reason why; I have a paranoia    of slipping back. I don't mean for a couple of weeks I mean forever so I need something to keep me on the straight and narrow. I also have struggled to find a resource source, so I've compiled one. Its a collection of the best bits of advice I've been told, listened to on podcasts, read in books or from the internet. These references I have tried to put on the references page. This page will be organic and the references will grow with me, what I do not want is for this blog to appear pretenscious; I want it be down to earth, factual and most important helpful.

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We'll move on with some facts; a bit disjointed I know but just a reminder that we need to find motivation and that can be anywhere. No one plan is for all.

I’d started to read about the benefits of Creatine, often used by body builders but other studies indicated some benefits for endurance and even cognitive function.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine has a pretty long and glorious history compared to other sports supplements. The supplemental form, creatine monohydrate, was first taken up by Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell in the early 90s, and it’s stuck around as other wonder supplements have come and gone – in fact it’s now become the most heavily researched and widely used ‘ergogenic’ supplement on the market after caffeine.

Creatine itself is formed from two amino acids: arginine and glycine. Your body manufactures about a gram a day, and you get another from the average omnivorous diet. And no, it has absolutely nothing to do with steroids. Creatine’s job in the cell is to act as a store of the cell’s energy currency ‘phosphate’. It’s this ‘creatine phosphate’ that’s used to restore the cellular energy molecule ATP after it’s run down as the cell consumes energy.

The reason it’s popular among the bench and biceps crowd is that a ready supply of ATP provides the energy for high-intensity work like lifting weights…or, of greater relevance to we runners, for short all-out runs.

Speed work is a staple of training, and creatine supplementation is particularly useful for improving performance in interval training. A meta-analysis of existing research showed a 7.5% increase in performance in those taking creatine – which equates to more beneficial training effects for your running.

OK, so it may be of use over 100m or 400m, but outside a little help with your speed work, why consider creatine?

Well, a 2003 study demonstrated that creatine supplementation led to a 5% increase in lactate threshold, meaning you can run at a higher pace for much longer without redlining. Creatine has been shown to work in conjunction with the carbs in your diet to raise levels of glycogen stored in the muscle cells, with a recent study in the journal International Society of Sports Nutrition showing a near 20% increase in stored carbs both before and after a two-hour bout of training.

This is all good stuff, but to realise the full potential of creatine it’s crucial to step back and look at the bigger picture. A one hour run is about 4% of your day. The other 96% is recovery and health – here, creatine can be a real weapon in your arsenal.

Creatine isn’t simply an ‘energy carrier’; it performs a variety of functions in the cell. It’s been known since the 70s that supplementation acts as a switch, increasing the amount of muscle protein synthesis, which means faster recovery of damaged muscle tissue. It also sucks water into the muscle cells, improving the hydration critical to all cell functions, and a more recent discovery is that creatine can also act as an antioxidant, scavenging the cell-damaging free radicals produced in huge quantities when we train. Unsurprisingly, given all that, studies also show that creatine supplementation lowers markers of post training muscle cell damage.

In fact, creatine even has a place when you’re injured, increasing the recovery of energy stores in unused muscle tissues and increasing the glucose transporters that shuttle carbs into the muscle cells by as much as 40% according to research in the journal Diabetes.

The picture we have of creatine, as a purely sports oriented supplement, is beginning to change. It’s now being seen as a health supplement, and even a tool in the fight against fat gain. 

Research out in the last few months in the journal Cell has shown that creatine increases the ‘thermic effect’ of feeding, in other words increasing the uptake in calorie burning that happens after you eat. Small, but significant changes like this can add up to real world results over the long term, and multiple studies dating back decades show that supplementation is associated with a reduction in body fat.

That ability to increase glucose transport into cells has brought it the attention of the medical community and recent research shows that supplementation can improve blood sugar control – a marker for diabetes risk – after a carb heavy meal.

‘The brain is the strongest muscle in the body’ isn’t strictly anatomically true, but it is the hungriest. In fact the nervous system is a huge consumer of energy, and the harder you think the more energy is consumed – energy supplied by ATP. It’s no surprise then that one of the biggest areas of research recently has been concerned with looking at creatine’s ability to both protect and boost brain function. Recent research at the University of Sydney showed that supplementation increased both memory and intelligence, by up to around 30% on some measures. Creatine has also shown to protect against brain injury and age-related cognitive decline. 

All this is great news, but stories about kidney damage, muscle cramps and stomach upsets persist – so is it safe? The good news here is that creatine is by far the most heavily studied ergogenic supplement out there and a huge body of evidence from studies conducted, both short and long term, show that creatine is safe. The only words of caution here are for those with pre-existing conditions such as kidney disease to check with their doctor before supplementing.

I wanted to reintroduce whole foods; and banana was top of my list.

Bananas have always made me feel good; but because I thought the basis of what I was doing was low carb/keto diet I had avoided them. On a mid-June Monday morning I’d gone to the gym and the cardio was tough. I decided to supplement the shake and bar with a couple of banana’s throughout the day. I only allowed myself this ‘treat’ after a quick internet search revealed the following:

The truth is that bananas are a real power food—as long as you don't overdo it on the portion size. An Appalachian State University study, which compared bananas to a sports drink during intense cycling, found that bananas offered several advantages. In addition to providing antioxidants not found in sports drinks, they pack more nutrients and a healthier blend of natural sugars. In the study, trained cyclists gulped either a cup of a carb-rich drink or downed half a banana every 15 minutes during a road race of two-and-a-half to three hours. Blood samples taken before and after revealed that the cyclists experienced similar performance effects, and a greater shift in dopamine—a neurotransmitter that plays a role in movement and mood—after eating the bananas. Some research also indicates that inadequate dopamine may be tied to obesity. But bananas aren't just for athletes. While it's true that bananas do pack more carbs per bite than other fruits (because they're lower in water content), there's no need to shun them, even if you're trying to lose weight. Bananas are a rich source of potassium, an essential nutrient in the body which, in addition to reducing blood pressure, helps support muscle maintenance and acts as a natural diuretic that alleviates water retention and bloating. The high levels of vitamin B6 in bananas also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and is vital for the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Bananas are also packed with fibre, which boosts satiety and improves digestive health. Fibre will prove to become more important in my dietary consideration; more info in the additional info tab.

It had started you use more tools to monitor my exercise; closing the ring on my iWatch became an obsession; below is Junes report. The best effort to date. Keeping track was becoming a more important motivation tool:

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My KPI’s for June:

Weight: Start: 88 kg’s – End 86.9 kg’s

Run: 6.0 kM in about 37 mins

Ride: 54.2 kM; AVG Speed 25.4 kM/h

Swim: No Swim

Note: My KPI’s are about what motivates me at a given time. They change and will continue to do so. There are as many or few as I decide but are markers of achievement. When they start to go a way I do not like I hope I can be honest enough to reset them and be accountable in meeting them again. Let’s see!

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My diet was:

Monday to Friday

Breakfast – Low Carb Banana Bread

Lunch – Low Carb Seeded Rusks

Dinner – Low Carb Meal

Saturday & Sunday

Breakfast – Low Carb Meal

Lunch – Low Carb Meal

Dinner – Low Carb Meal

Alcohol limited to one or two glasses of red wine with the family meals. No more than three glasses in any two days; Black coffee only; Green or Peppermint Tea. Started to allowing myself an occasional; cup of coffee with real milk (These are called flat whites in Australia).

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My Exercise Routine:

My exercise calendar is posted above; again more Gym; no swimming for the month.

I’d started to monitor my monthly active calorie burn; in this case 38,081, a slight decrease but a very similar burn to the previous month.