Which Daily Supplements to Choose? Tips from the experts – 3 min read

Welcome back to the What Supp Blog, your first stop for life supplementing tips and tricks. Today’s post is going to be a short collection of tips and choices I’ve picked out regarding supplements for general health and well-being.

I’ve recorded these over the years from podcasts and books, on occasion noting the expert whose advised and on occasion not. Hopefully there might be something that is of use, if so let me know in the comments!

So first up is a few general tips on quality control. If choosing any supplemental mineral look for a chelated form as it passes the blood brain barrier (most will end with a A). On top of this, avoid buying oxide minerals (ex zinc oxide) as these are the poorest of qualities.

Many multi vitamins often get (rightly) slated due to their poor quality. If you want a good one you can trust, try the multi vitamin O.N.E by pure encapsulations.

Next up, one for my American cousins, or anyone purchasing supplements from the states. When buying supplements from the US, look if they are USP and/or NSF certified. This is for quality assurance.

Rhonda Patrick, of Joe Rogan fame, is a big proponent of Vitamin D. This is especially for those who aren’t getting much daily sunshine. She advises 4000 IUs taken with a vitamin k2 supplement as a good daily dosage. Vitamin k2 has been seen to aid in blood clotting, heart health and bone health.Elsewhere Vitamin k2 has been advised at 100 micrograms ever other day, so maybe play about with it.

Reducing inflammation, especially low level systemic inflammation is a must. Curcumin has been famed for its anti inflammatory efforts within the body, but it all comes down to how well it can actually be absorbed. Try Curcumin muriva as it’s reported to have the best bioavailability. A good brand, also via Rhonda Patrick’s advice, is Thorn.

Keeping in line with with reducing inflammation, got one for your brain. Omega 3 fatty acids are abundant in fatty fish but more palatable in supplement form. Try 2 grams a day from either herring roe or krill oil. There has been some controversy about these supplements often becoming oxidised thus negating any potential benefit. Try Nordic naturals brand.

Some of the health dangers of highly processed seed oils and how they negatively effect you when oxidised, have also been well published. Author of best sellers the salt fix and longevity solution; James DiNicolantonio, advises a dose of 5 grams of glycine & and 6 grams of spirulina. Taken before consumption this may serve to counter the affects of being exposed to them, such as at a restaurant for example.

Talking of the the all natural super supplement that is spirulina, when purchasing its best to ensure it’s been produced from Taiwan and grown outdoors. To learn more about this supplemental power house algae, read this previous post; https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/06/30/snack-hack-8-spirulina-the-superfood-pond-scum/

Super life author Darin Olien gave his top two supplements – coffee fruit & tumerone. Coffee fruit contains chemicals called procyanidins which are known to protect brain cells, as well as a unique profile of polyphenols that may well relate to its ability to raise Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, (BDNF) so dramatically. Tumerone is a natural compound found in turmeric and is showing pretty impressive results for its ability to aid stem cells and brain growth.

Ok, last off we have probiotics. The gut health promoting effects of these support everything from mental health to immune function. The daddy of the all? VSL number 3 probiotic, unflavoured, recommendation via Dr Rhonda Patrick again. For a little more on probiotics and prebiotics, check this short previous post; https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/04/27/snack-hacks-5-prebiotics-vs-probiotics/

Alrighty, hope there’s a few tips to help you on your way. Till next time.

Cheap Eat Recipes – Low Carb/Keto Chocolate Pudding

Welcome back to the Cheap Eat Recipe series. Today’s recipe is a satiating low sugar containing desert that is as simple as they come and the perfect addition to not just a low carb or ketogenic meal plan, but pretty much for anyone with a pulse.

The main recipe is tinned coconut milk but you can make it using double cream too. The other key ingredient is 100% cocoa powder. Raw cacao is packed full of antioxidants and can be truly beneficial when taken in moderation. Check out this old post for more information around the impressive power of cocoa; https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2017/03/05/chocolate-a-superfood/

Ingredients

– 400g coconut milk(put the tin in the fridge overnight if you remember)

– 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted

– 1 teaspoon stevia (optional)

– 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or pure vanilla seeds)

– Pinch of decent quality salt

To serve: Cocoa nibs & fresh berries (both optional)

Directions

1. Whisk the coconut milk until all combined and add the stevia* and vanilla.

2. In another bowl sift together the cacao powder and salt and fold into the coconut mix.

3. Dish in small bowls or silicone cupcake moulds. Leave this to chill for at least 2 hours to let firm up.

4. Serve with fresh fruits and cacao nibs. They are very moorish so you’ve been warned!

* You can replace the stevia by 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Ben Greenfield’s Fasting Protocol – 2 minute read

Welcome back to the What Supp Blog and the ‘what the experts say’ series. Today’s short read will be curtesy of fitness trainer and bio hacker supreme, Mr Ben Greenfield. This plan was discussed particularly with longevity in mind, trying to strike a balance with regular heavy training and the nutritional strategies that requires.

I’ve done a few tips from Ben, particularly how to cook the perfect steak, so have a look! (https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2018/11/24/ben-greenfields-recipe-for-cooking-the-perfect-steak/).

Right, so Ben is a serious proponent of intermittent fasting which has been seen to have a number of healthy effects on longevity. Here are the standout points from his weekly eating plan:

– A daily 12 to 16 hour fast. So this would include an overnight fast and could likely look something like stopping eating or drinking anything other than water after 8pm then breaking the fast anywhere between 8am and 12pm the following day.

– One 24 hour fast a week. He stated this will typically be Saturday after dinner in the evening to Sunday dinner time.

– Meatless Monday. So this is a pretty self explanatory one. Ben has discussed the reduction of protein reducing oxidative damage thus improving longer term cellar health. He also has spoken about reducing protein on low training volume days to 0.5 grams per pound of body weight (around 1.1 grams per kg of bw) as well as cutting it out one day a week.

Ben has also previously advised, in regards to protein intake, 0.7/0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight (or around 1.4/1.7 g/kg of bw) for active people when training hard. Highlighting research saying that there’s not much effect from having over this.

on a more general note, from what I’ve heard and read from bed he essentially follows a “paleo” type diet with focus on whole foods, grass fed/wild caught fish & meats, offfal, fermented foods and plenty of veg, particularly cruciferous vegetables. He doesn’t exclude carbs and even enjoys homemade sourdough bread!

Ok, hope this helps! Please like, share and leave a comment.

What is an Adaptogen? 2 Minute Read

Welcome back to the What Supp Blog, the one stop shop for total human optimisation! So today’s post is just a brief and simple one. People of the world, I give you.. the adaptogen.

Adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants: They help balance, restore and protect the body. Adaptogens are herbs and fungi that help your body to adapt and I’ll go on to list some of the common ones below. Firstly though let’s break down what makes an adaptogen what it is. Most importantly they help your body deal with stress so you can swap being stressed, tiered and overworked for:

• Restored balance

• Energy

• Resilience to occasional stress

Adaptogens help the body’s own ability to heal. There are 3 rules that an adaptogen must adhere to to be classified as such. These are;

1. It must be safe in normal doses and not addictive, (for example, the opposite of how coffee works!).

2. It’s none specific and as such, works multiple body parts.

3. It has the ability to modelate, meaning it enhances. An adaptogen is not inherently a stimulant and not inherently a sedative or suppressant.

Right, so there are the 3 essential components, here are some examples of adaptogens you can purchase when your out and about:

– Panax Ginseng

– Holy Basil

– Ashwagandha

– Astragalus root

– Licorice root

– Rhodiola

– Cordycep mushrooms

– Reishi mushrooms

– Chaga mushrooms

Alright, hope this has inspired some deeper reading and research on what is an essential for the rigours of modern living.

Take Your Training to the Next Level – Beta Alanine

Welcome back to the What Supp Blog! The one stop shop when it comes to optimising body and mind. Today’s post will be looking at a super supplement that has the potential to super charge your athletic performance. That supplement be beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a particularly awesome choice for athletes as it works to reduce fatigue during intense exercise and enhance muscular endurance.

Beta-alanine is a modified version of the amino acid alanine, and is a non essential amino acid. Unlike most amino acids, it is not used by your body to synthesise proteins for the likes of building and repairing muscle. Instead, together with histidine, it produces the molecule carnosine.

How

Carnosine is stored in cells and released in response to drops in pH within the muscle, helping to combat fatigue. Carnosine maintains the pH and has a buffering effect against the effects of lactic acid created from, for example, high intensity exercise. Carnosine can even protect against diet-induced drops in pH which could occur, for instance, from ketone production in ketosis.

In your muscles, histidine levels are normally high and beta-alanine levels low, which limits the production of carnosine. When beta-alanine is ingested, it turns into carnosine and works by subsequently increasing your muscle’s carnosine store. Supplementing with beta-alanine has been shown to elevate carnosine levels in muscles by 80%!

Exercise

Beta-alanine supplementation is best suited to moderate to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise performance, such as rowing or sprinting. However, research also shows beta-alanine has the power to improve weightlifting, increase muscle growth and enhance endurance performance with studies showing that it helps increase your time to exhaustion. Although it is most associated for exercise lasting one to four minutes, it’s still worth digging into for endurance minded athletes.

Nutrition

Beta alanine can be found in Both animal and fish produce such as turkey, chicken and prawns.

However, the amounts of beta-alanine found in the diet are not comparable with that found in supplement form. You will not see the same performance enhancement effects from food sources as those found with supplementing it. However consuming beta-alanine with a meal can further increase your carnosine levels.

Dosage

In regards to dosing I’ve read different information stating standard dosage of beta-alanine is 2–5 grams daily, to another saying 4.8 grams per day is optimal. The great ‘must listen’ Guru Performance podcast did a feature on it and advised a split dose of 2 grams, 4 times a day for a minimum of 4 weeks. I have particularly had success with this protocol.

When supplementing be aware that a minimum 2 weeks , but more like 4 weeks, is required in order to see an impact. This is also with consistent use, so don’t be fooled that you’ll see a impact on performance just from consuming it as a one off as part of a shop bought pre workout formula.

Stacking

Beta-alanine can be staked. There is some research that it can be favourably paired with creatine and sodium bicarbonate.

Creatine helps high-intensity exercise performance by increasing ATP availability. When used together, creatine and beta-alanine have been shown to benefit exercise performance, strength and lean muscle mass.

Sodium bicarbonate,or baking soda, enhances exercise performance by reducing acid in your blood and muscles.Many studies have examined beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate in combination.The results suggest some benefits from combining the two supplements, especially during exercises in which muscle acidosis inhibits performance.

Beta alanine however does not go to well with the amino acid taurine and may deplete the body’s taurine stores as they may compete for uptake. This could be of importance if you’re taking beta alanine as part of a pre formulated pre-workout drink as they often include taurine due to its speculated stimulating effects, (which has been disproved anyway).

Tingling

Lastly, doses of beta-alanine may cause a tingling feeling called paresthesia. This may be in the neck, face or back of hands. Don’t worry though, it is a harmless side effect, and you don’t have to feel it to be getting the benefits of the supplement!

Alrighty, hope there’s been a couple of takeaways for you. Check out the previous posts for more info on nutrition, supplements and more.

Pre & Post Workout Shake – The Muscle Building Combo

Today’s post is a simple strategy for you to build muscle through optimising your immediate pre and post workout nutrition strategies. This is not to be seen as a replacement to a balanced and targeted nutrition approach, but to simply complement it and ensure you get the most from your workouts.

So initially we have the pre-workout. When purchased, the pre workout will often consist of all sorts of weird and wonderful concoctions, but mainly a crazy amount of sugar, taurine and caffeine. I’ll try and keep it pretty basic here with my suggestions though and avoid loading you up with lab synthesised nutrients and other substances.

The focus of the recommendations in this post are primarily in regards to building muscle. However, if you’re planning a particularly long, high-intensity workout with other outcomes to just building muscle, or you are low on fuel and/or you needed a pick me up prior to your exercise, I would advise the addition of a ripe banana and a coffee. These two options will give a spike in energy from the fructose, (sugar), in the banana and caffeine in the coffee. The banana will also add to your stored carbohydrate,(glycogen), and the caffeine can buffer some of the fatigue caused from exercise.

If you’re already fuelled and watching out for additional calories, then look to have a pre work out shake that consists of whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate uses additional processing steps to reduce the fat and carbohydrate content of whey, which is usually around 80% protein and 20% carbohydrates and fats. These steps result also in a higher protein content of around 90%, and sometimes more.

The purpose of consuming the whey isolate pre workout is to avoid any muscle breakdown during the workout and support the accessing of fatty acids for fuel, as opposed to adding additional carbohydrates. Mix your whey protein isolate with a low fat milk or water.

Ok, now post workout. There are mixed opinions about the necessity of having that post workout within the “anabolic window” – the 30 minutes straight after your workout. Now unless you are an elite athlete, this will not have a hugely significant impact, as long as the rest of your nutrition (and specifically protein intake) is on point. However, if wanting to maximise your recovery in preparation for another workout later that day, and (especially in context of this post), build muscle, get a shake in you between 15 and 30 minutes post workout.

Now, to the content of that post workout shake. I advocate a food first approach and this includes the content of your shake. You need some quick absorbing carbohydrates first and foremost. Try grinding Jasmin rice & blueberries in a coffee grinder, (if time allows make the rice pre soaked). Combine this to a fast absorbing protein such as whey or pea protein. Both will help with muscle repair and synthesis. Whey isolate or concentrate are equally good as the types of amino acids found in both forms of whey are virtually identical.

Upon finishing the workout, add the preprepared rice & blueberries to either coconut water or beetroot juice. Coconut water is a good choice due to some simple sugars and potassium content. Beetroot is a good choice as it’s what’s called a vasodilator. This is something that improves blood flow around the body thus supporting recovery.

In regards to amount of rice, for someone weighing 77kg /170 pounds , use 1/2 to 3/4 cup post workout, adjust this a little up and down to meet your specific weight needs. Use just a handful of blueberries as a high level of antioxidants post exercise have been seen to inhibit adaptation. Following your post workout, aim to have a balanced meal around 45 minutes later.

Ok, I hope this has given you some idea and a helpful template to start optimising your pre and post workout regime to build muscle. Till next time.

Snack Hack # 20 – Ribbing’s Bike Memory Technique – 2 minute read

Welcome back to the Snack Hack series. These posts aim to bring some easy and actionable tips and tricks into your everyday life. Today’s hack is a nice, simple and memorable one. It’s a memory technique you can implement from everything from your shopping list to a meeting at work, it’s all just dependant on your creativity.

This technique is called the Ribbing’s bike and comes via memory big gun Mattias Ribbing. The idea is to picture a bike. Any bike. Make it a memorable one though. Now enlarge it in your head and imagine it as big as an SUV, standing in front of you. Think of 10 tasks you need to remember, things like picking up a file from work, dropping off your dry-cleaning, resoling your winter boots, picking up the food shopping, whatever.

Now assign an image to each thing, something vivid, with sharp lines, which Ribbing claims stick in your mind better than amorphous shapes. “For example, visualising a sun,” he said. “That’s not really good because it’s not a fixed outline.”

For each task, take the first image that comes to mind (a pair of boots, a bag of food shopping, suits on a rack, whatever), enlarge it and hold onto it. Then you’ll begin putting each object on a different part of the bike, mentally connecting the two, so something like “front tire” is synonymous with food shopping.

When you visualise a bike, you place an image on the front tire, then move slowly back to the spokes, then to the hub in the center of the wheel. The technique plays on the power of having a visual association to whatever you’re trying to remember.

Ok, hope this is something that may come in handy. In an age where we rely so heavily on our phones for information, it pays to be able to rely on our most secure and reliable piece of tech; the one in your head.

What the Experts Say – Longevity – 2 minute read

Welcome back to the What the Experts Say series. These short sharp nuggets of wisdom are bought via some of the leading lights in the health and wellness space. They’re not loaded with the research and technical knowledge that backs their presenters so please go dig deeper if you wish!

Ok, without further ado. Today’s topic is longevity. Here are 3 tip bits to how to measure and improve your health span.

First up we have Dr Kate Shanihan. Kate’s fantastic in-depth read ‘Deep Nutrition’ is a thorough exploration on the modern diet’s impact on health and well-being. She noted on the Primal Blueprint podcast that connective tissue is the biggest determining factor to quality of life as you age as it literally holds you together! Want to improve yours? Meat on the bone and bone broth.

Next up we have Dominic D’ Agostino, the keto king pin from most famously Tim Ferris’s and Joe Rogan’s podcasts. Dom stated blood glucose monitoring is the best health bio marker we have. In order to track it, test fasting and postprandial blood sugar markers. Doing this will predict how well functioning your metabolism really is.

Lastly, Mr Mike T Nelson. Mike is the man when it comes to metabolic flexibility and I’d recommend having a read of this previous post I did about his advice on a fasting with an exercise routine https://whatsuppblogblog.com/2018/12/07/dr-mike-t-nelsons-carbohydrate-cycling-exercise-plan-for-health-fitness-wellbeing/ . Mike highlights the following markers of longevity – 1. lower body strength; 2. grip strength; 3. VO2 max. So with that in mind get your squat on, fingers gripping and feet sprinting.

Alrighty, hope there was some takeaways. Please drop me a comment and a like! Till next time.

How to Prioritise – The Eisenhower Matrix – 2 minute read

Welcome back to the What Supp Blog. Today’s post is about how to get sh*t sorted and prioritise. With this in mind, I’ll introduce you to the Eisenhower Matrix.

The Esinhower Matrix is a method used by a former American president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the United States Army and as the Allied Forces Supreme Commander during World War II. He also later became NATO’s first supreme commander. Needless to say he needed to make some pretty tough decisions.

Prioritising tasks by urgency and importance results in 4 quadrants with different work strategies:

1. Do first

2. Decide

3. Delegate

4. Don’t do

The first quadrant is called Do first as its tasks are important for your life and career, and need to be done today or tomorrow at the latest. You could use a timer to help you concentrate while trying to get as much of them done as possible. An example could be a work document, paying a bill or an unexpected crisis.

The second quadrant is called Decide. These are for tasks to schedule and are important but less urgent. You should list tasks you need to put in your calendar here. An example of that could be a long-planned study or exercise program, family or friend commitments.

Competent time managers leave fewer things unplanned and therefore try to manage most of their work in the second quadrant, reducing stress by terminating urgent and important to-dos to a reasonable date in the near future whenever a new task comes in.

The third quadrant is for those tasks you could delegate as they are less important to you than others but still pretty urgent. You should keep track of delegated tasks by e-mail, telephone or within a meeting to check back on their progress later.

An example of a delegated task could be somebody calling you to ask for an urgent favor or request that you step into a meeting. You could delegate this responsibility by suggesting a better person for the job or by giving the caller the necessary information to have them deal with the matter themselves.

The fourth and last quadrant is called Don’t Do because it is there to help you sort out things you should not being doing at all. Use this quadrant to identify and stop bad habits, which cause you to procrastinate. These items are the ones which give you an excuse for not being able to deal with important tasks in the 1st and 2nd quadrant.

Try limiting yourself to no more than eight tasks per quadrant. Before adding another one, complete the most important one first. Remember: It is not about collecting but finishing tasks. You should always maintain only one list for both professional and private tasks. That way you will never be able to complain about not having done anything for your family or yourself at the end of the day.

Till next time

Why Choosing your Cooking Oil Matters

Welcome back to the What Supp Blog! Today’s post is about why it’s so important to choose the right oils and fats for cooking. Some may (rightly) just think this comes down to the taste, unfortunately though it’s far more impactful on your health than just what it means for you taste buds.

Many of the fats used in today’s cooking are vegetable and seed oils. These are often comprised of a number of highly processed polyunsaturated fats that are incredibly unstable when heated. The processing of these fats alone can impact your health negatively, but add to heat to the mix and you’re at a heady mixture of inflammation and free radical damage.

These polyunsaturated fats are made up of both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The modern diet should be composed of a combination of both of these with an ideal ratio being anything from 4:1 to 1:1 of Omega 6 to 3. As already stated, these fats can be very unstable so getting them from natural sources such as oily fish for omega 3 and nuts & seeds for omega 6 is the preferred option.

The ramping up of omega 6 oils in your diet can be completely unintentional and unavoidable, with them being used in so many foods from persavatives to dressings. In his excellent book Genius Foods, Max Lugrave explains that a healthy brain cell needs membrane fluidity to respond to the world around us. This happens through receptors which need to be able to surface and hear the messages contained by neuro transmitters. Omega 3 helps keep this pathway fluid. Unstable oxidised omega 6s however will cause neuro rigidity, which impairs the ability of the receptor to surface from the cell. In turn this all impacts the accessing of memories, excutive functioning and even mood.

One interesting Australian study showed vegetable fats destroying endothelium function. The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels. Endothelial cells release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction as well as enzymes that control blood clotting, immune function and platelet (a colourless substance in the blood) adhesion. A cigarette can negatively impact this system for 4 hours. One box of deep fried fries (like the ones from you know where) was shown to suppress the endothelium for 24 hours! The effects of this already unstable polyunsaturated fats being heated can act to actually mutate your genes.

When choosing a decent fat to cook with, a good rule thumb is opt for monounsaturated or saturated fats. What’s the really important bit though is where the smoke point is, as this is when the oil gets unstable and oxidation occurs.

There are a number of good choices that have high smoke points. Check out the following options:

– ghee

– avocado oil

– macadamia oil

– light/pure olive oil

– algae oil

– refined coconut oil

– lard – both a monounsaturated & saturated fat

– duck fat (pasteurised)

You might note I recommend refined rather than cold pressed coconut oil. Refined coconut oil has a smoking point of at least 204c/400f (some sources I’ve read say 232c/450f). This is an easier temperature to work with when cooking on the stove or baking at higher temperatures. Just be mindful of the product quality as the very cheapest will use bleaching and deodorising in the processing of it.

The same can be noted for olive oil where I haven’t advised extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is essential in your diet for so many reasons but again, it’s smoke point is not as high as light or just olive oil. Similarly to coconut, don’t just buy the cheapest so to ensure some quality control.

So, what is the king of the oils you may well ask. That be the mighty avocado oil. What it does have is the highest smoke point upward of many oils and is stable up to 260c/500f. Obviously this is a pretty expensive option and maybe best to leave specifically for those dishes you need to cook at a high heat.

One easy and implementable action is simply ensure, wherever you can, you’re cooking your food at a low heat. Not only will this avoid the fat your using hitting it’s smoke point, but it’ll also ensure you don’t completely destroy the nutritional content of your food.

Till next time.