Green tea is a type of tea that originated in China but now has spread and is enjoyed all over the world. Known for its health benefits, people will drink green tea to aid weight loss, boost their metabolism, and improve their general health. While drinking endless cups of your regular builder’s tea is not very good for your health, you can drink up to 10 cups of green tea a day and reap the benefits! So, what are the benefits of drinking green tea?
Is green tea good for your health?
Green tea is full of antioxidants which are fantastic for our health. There are many things in the fitness world that claim to be great for you but are actually just a gimmick, however antioxidants are proven to be good for us. Oxidisation is a natural process that happens to everything in nature (think rust). It is this process that causes us to age and the oxidisation of our cells can lead to ill health. By consuming antioxidants in our diet through superfoods like blueberries and green tea, you can slow down the ageing process and improve your health.
The tea leaves used to make green tea don’t go through the same oxidisation process used to make oolong and black tea which is why it is considered a superfood. Green tea contains many vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, folate (naturally occurring folic acid), manganese, potassium, magnesium, caffeine and other antioxidants, notably catechins. All of this goodness will give you benefits such as improved mood, clearer skin, and a faster metabolism.
What if I don’t like green tea?
Green tea can be a little bitter when drunk on its own and its taste is not for everyone! The health benefits are so good that even if you don’t like drinking green tea, it’s still worth trying to get it into your diet somehow. Matcha green tea powder is a food supplement that you can put in smoothies or juices to still get all the benefits. One scoop of matcha green tea powder is the equivalent of drinking 10 cups of green tea! Matcha is a finely ground powder of green tea which is specially grown to promote the production of caffeine and theanine which can calm your mood when consumed. Matcha is now a widely recognised superfood and health food product and is used in everything from ice cream to confectionery.
Gaining muscle is a lot harder than it is made to seem, especially for women. It is a long and arduous process and you need a lot of patience, but after a while, your hard work will pay off. There are supplements that can help you along the way, which will aid your healthy weight gain in a sustainable way without eating a lot of junk food. We explore some of the best weight gain supplements on the market.
Whey protein is the biggest contender when it comes to protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process needed to build new muscle, so when it comes to gaining weight, it's crucial. The reason whey is the best type of protein for this is because it is fast to digest and contains peptides which help to increase blood flow to the muscles.
When to take: Research has shown a high protein breakfast can help to maintain lean muscle. Combine a scoop of whey protein with your morning oats for a muscle building breakfast. Whey is best consumed post-workout as this is your ‘anabolic’ window, where the protein will be used to repair the muscles used in your workout. 1-2 servings of a clean protein shake should be taken within 30 minutes of training, but whey can also be used as a snack at any time throughout the day to keep your protein intake high.Try to buy a protein which is as organic as possible and always read the ingredients to check it has a high protein content rather than cheaper less effective mixes. Some whey protein supplements will also contain carbs and fat which will help you to gain weight faster, but always check to make sure you know what you are consuming.
Casein Protein is a slow digesting protein ideal for bedtime use. This type of protein takes up to 8 hours to be digested, so it is suggested that you take a casein shake before bed so that your body digests it as you sleep and you don't go catabolic overnight.
When to take: Casein is best taken as a shake about 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in meat and fish as well as being naturally produced by the body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Creatine is converted to creatine phosphate, which we use for energy during high-intensity, short duration exercise, such as sprinting or heavy weight lifting. Creatine supplements can be bought in various forms, from flavoured powders to pills. They are taken in order to enhance the body's ability to create energy and increase muscle mass. The increased energy from creatine enables users to lift more in the gym and, therefore, create more muscle mass. Creatine also increases weight gain by drawing water into the muscles, giving the illusion of a fuller, swollen physique, this stretch on the cell encourages more long-term growth.
When to take: It is recommended you take 2-5g of creatine immediately before workouts. This helps keep your muscles saturated with creatine and provides extra energy to perform more explosive heavy lifts. Post-workout, consume another 2-5g as creatine will be rapidly taken up by muscle cells during this anabolic window. On rest days, it is recommended that a creatine cycle is maintained by taking 2-5g of creatine with a breakfast that contains carbohydrates.
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids. These are composed of 3 of our 9 essential amino acids, essential because our bodies do not produce them naturally and, therefore, they have to be sourced through diet. BCAA supplements are made up of valine, leucine, and isoleucine. Leucine is the most important of the three, as research shows that it can stimulate muscle protein synthesis on its own. Despite this, it's still best to take all three, since they work together to provide muscle growth, increased energy during workouts and decreased DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).
When to take: It is recommended that you take BCAAs either between meals, 30-45 minutes before or immediately after your workout.
Beta alanine is an amino acid which, when combined with histidine, forms carnosine. Carnosine has been shown to increase the muscle fibre's ability to contract with more force for longer and without tiring. However, supplementing with beta-alanine can take some getting used to. Around 15 minutes after ingestion, you may experience an extreme itch; typically a prickling/sensation is felt on the surface of the skin, which may be uncomfortable but is harmless.The beta alanine itch is the result of nerve endings underneath the skin being stimulated and firing at a higher than normal rate. It is not a cause for concern and is experienced by the majority of beta alanine users. Research found that 3.2 grams of beta alanine supplemented on a daily basis raised intramuscular carnosine levels by around 80%, leading to increases in muscle size and strength.
When to take: Take 1 serving prior to your workout and test your sensitivity, gradually increase to 2 servings.
Remember, food supplements are not to be used as a replacement for a varied, balanced, and healthy diet. Supplements should be taken in addition to a healthy diet and do not exceed the recommended dose.
Good luck gainers!
Nutrition is a loaded subject and often at the heart of heated debate. One common question is whether we should be taking vitamins, and if so, which ones? We debunk the myths and present the facts.
Why we need it
Vitamin B12 keeps the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and also prevents a type of anaemia that can make you feel tired and weak. Vegans commonly do not get enough Vitamin B12 as a vegan diet is not naturally rich in this vitamin, so vegans are recommended to take a supplement to prevent potential health risks.
- Beef liver
- Some breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B12
- Some non-dairy milks are fortified with vitamin B12
Recommended daily dosage
People over 50 years of age should consume vitamin B12-fortified foods, or take a vitamin B12 supplement. Doses of 25-100 mcg per day have been used to maintain the B12 vitamin levels in older people. For other life stages, the daily doses are as follows:
Why we need it
We need Vitamin D in order to absorb calcium and promote healthy bone growth and maintenance. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to several types of cancer, depression, and heart disease. Having a healthy dose of Vitamin D daily will improve your mood and will help you keep you strong.
The most well-known source of vitamin D is from the sun. There are different types of vitamin D, and vitamin D3 is the type that most people lack as this cannot be absorbed through food and our only source is the sun. This is great in summer when we can top up our tan and max out our daily dose in 10 minutes, but in the winter it's a different story.
Other types of vitamin D can be found in dairy and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
Recommended daily dosage
Children and adults need 10mcg of Vitamin D daily to stay healthy and prevent health risks. In the summer months, most adults and children will be able to get the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin D from the sun alone, however it is recommended to take a supplement in winter months.
Why we need it
You need vitamin C for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It helps the body make collagen, an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is needed for healing wounds, and for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.
The best sources of Vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. Fruits with the highest dose of Vitamin C are:
- Cantaloupe melon
- Citrus fruits and juices, such as orange and grapefruit
- Kiwi fruit
- Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries
Recommended daily dosage
Most people can get their daily dose of Vitamin C through diet alone and do not need to take a supplement. However, if you smoke, you need a higher daily dose of Vitamin C.
Adult males need around 90mcg/day while adult females need around 75. For pregnant women this increases to 85 mcg/day and for breastfeeding women it's 120mcg/day.
Why we need it
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.
As a general rule, starchy foods which are orange in colour such as carrots and sweet potato are high in Vitamin A. The following foods are a good dietary source of Vitamin A:
- Sweet potato
Recommended daily dosage
The amount of vitamin A you need depends on your age and reproductive status. Recommended intakes for vitamin A for people aged 14 years and older range between 700 and 900 micrograms (mcg) per day. Recommended intakes for women who are breastfeeding range between 1,200 and 1,300 mcg.
If you eat a healthy balanced diet, you won't need to take a daily multivitamin. A lot of multivitamins actually contain far over the recommended daily dosage and also contain other ingredients as well. If you identify that you need one specific vitamin, take a supplement for that one on its own. The main demographic of people who will need to take a food supplement or vitamin supplement is pregnant and breastfeeding women.
You may have heard the terms 'IIFYM' or flexible dieting on popular social media sites or being promoted by fitness bloggers. But what does it all mean? Can counting your macros help you achieve your health and fitness goals?
What are macros?
Macronutrients are the building blocks of nutrition. Comprising of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, macros are the nutrients we need most. All foods contain these three macronutrients in varying degrees, and by manipulating the ratio of macros you eat, you can alter your results. By counting your macros, you can achieve weight loss, muscle gain, and improve your recovery after a tough session.
How do you count macros?
Thankfully, counting your macros is very easy because it is all down to science and maths.
1g of carbs contains 4 calories.
1g of protein contains 4 calories.
1g of fat contains 9 calories.
If your daily calorie needs are 2,000 calories, you can use maths to calculate how many grams of each macro you will need to eat to achieve your goal. The main variant is the ratio of macros you decide to have, and this is entirely personal and dependent on your goals.
A bodybuilder will have vastly different needs to a marathon runner, and this will translate to different macro ratios. You can also use macros for weight loss. A bodybuilder does a lot of weight training and will need a lot of protein. Therefore, an example macro ratio for a bodybuilder might be 40% protein, 40% fat, 20% carbs. If the bodybuilder's calories needs are 2,000 calories, then they would need to eat 800 calories worth of protein, 800 of fat, and 400 of carbs. Therefore, they would need to eat 200g of protein, 88g of fat, and 100g of carbs each day.
To simplify the process, you can use an online macro calculator the do the sums for you and help you determine your macros.
IIFYM - If It Fits Your Macros
There are different types of macro diet out there, and a very popular way of eating is following the IIFYM rule: if it fits your macros, you can eat it. However, this is not necessarily a healthy way of living, as by following this rule you could potentially consume a lot of hydrogenated fats, sugar, and chemicals, which are not conducive to a healthy diet and lifestyle. IIFYM is more of a fad found on social media and should not be followed as a strict diet.
Why is junk food so addictive? When does it stop being an occasional treat and start becoming something you can't stop thinking about?
Why are certain foods addictive?
Unnatural foods change the way the brain reacts when you are eating and this is why you end up with cravings. Our brain works on a reward system and when we eat something we like, our brain signals that we should eat more of it, whether that's because it was nutrient-dense or just because it tasted good.
There are different tricks that food manufacturers use to make you want to eat more of their food. For example, foods that melt in your mouth signal to your brain that you're eating less and stop you feeling full so that you eat more.
The harmful effects of junk food
A 2001 study in medical journal The Lancet found that the more junk food you eat, the more you need to get the same buzz as before, and so it spirals out of control. Eventually, you seek out the foods because of the way they make you feel, not even because they taste good or even because you're hungry. Have you ever gone to get fast food even when you're not hungry, and then realise it doesn't even taste that good? And yet you crave more? That's because of the way the chemicals affect your brain.
What are the symptoms of food addiction?
- Getting cravings even if you're already full.
- Not being able to stop eating even when you become full.
- Feeling guilty after eating (but then eating again anyway)
- Hiding food from others
- Making excuses to eat more
- Getting anxious, stressed, and even angry when food is restricted
How to get back on the right track
Being addicted to junk food is the same as any addiction, and it can be best to just cut it out altogether. It will be hard at first, but your brain will need time to rewire and relearn how to react when you eat.
Every taste is an acquired taste at first, but some are just easier to acquire than others. If you hate broccoli when you first eat it, keep trying until you do like it. Eventually, your body will realise all the nutrient-dense benefits it's giving you and you'll start to actually like it.
It will take more than just willpower to get over your addiction as it is affecting the actual chemicals in your brain. Set small, manageable goals like cooking from scratch and only eating out once a week.