Creatine – What Is It and What Does It Do?

Creatine is the number-one supplement for improving performance in the gym.

Studies show that it can increase muscle mass, strength and exercise performance

Additionally, it provides a number of other health benefits, such as protecting against neurological disease

Some people believe that creatine is unsafe and has many side effects, but these are not supported by evidence

In fact, it is one of the world’s most tested supplements and has an outstanding safety profile

This article explains everything you need to know about creatine.


What is creatine?

Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise.

Taking creatine as a supplement is very popular among athletes and bodybuilders in order to gain muscle, enhance strength and improve exercise performance

Chemically speaking, it shares many similarities with amino acids. Your body can produce it from the amino acids glycine and arginine.

Several factors affect your body’s creatine stores, including meat intake, exercise, amount of muscle mass and levels of hormones like testosterone and IGF-1

About 95% of your body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The other 5% is found in your brain, kidneys and liver

When you supplement, you increase your stores of phosphocreatine. This is a form of stored energy in the cells, as it helps your body produce more of a high-energy molecule called ATP.

ATP is often called the body’s energy currency. When you have more ATP, your body can perform better during exercise

Creatine also alters several cellular processes that lead to increased muscle mass, strength and recovery

SUMMARYCreatine is a substance found naturally in your body — particularly in muscle cells. It is commonly taken as a supplement.

How does it work?

Creatine can improve health and athletic performance in several ways.

In high-intensity exercise, its primary role is to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles.

The additional stores can then be used to produce more ATP, which is the key energy source for heavy lifting and high-intensity exercise

Creatine also helps you gain muscle in the following ways:

  • Boosted workload: Enables more total work or volume in a single training session, which is a key factor in long-term muscle growth
  • Improved cell signaling: Can increase satellite cell signaling, which aids muscle repair and new muscle growth
  • Raised anabolic hormones: Studies note a rise in hormones, such as IGF-1, after taking creatine.
  • Increased cell hydration: Lifts water content within your muscle cells, which causes a cell volumization effect that may play a role in muscle growth.
  • Reduced protein breakdown: May increase total muscle mass by reducing muscle breakdown.
  • Lower myostatin levels: Elevated levels of the protein myostatin can slow or totally inhibit new muscle growth. Supplementing with creatine can reduce these levels, increasing growth potential.

Creatine supplements also increase phosphocreatine stores in your brain, which may improve brain health and prevent neurological disease.

SUMMARYCreatine gives your muscles more energy and leads to changes in cell function that increase muscle growth.

Effects on muscle gain

Creatine is effective for both short- and long-term muscle growth

It assists many different people, including sedentary individuals, older adults and elite athletes.

One 14-week study in older adults determined that adding creatine to a weight-training program significantly increased leg strength and muscle mass.

In a 12-week study in weightlifters, creatine increased muscle fiber growth 2–3 times more than training alone. The increase in total body mass also doubled alongside one-rep max for bench press, a common strength exercise.

A large review of the most popular supplements selected creatine as the single most beneficial supplement for adding muscle mass.

SUMMARYSupplementing with creatine can result in significant increases in muscle mass. This applies to both untrained individuals and elite athletes.

Effects on strength and exercise performance

Creatine can also improve strength, power and high-intensity exercise performance.

In one review, adding creatine to a training program increased strength by 8%, weightlifting performance by 14% and bench press one-rep max by up to 43%, compared to training alone.

In well-trained strength athletes, 28 days of supplementing increased bike-sprinting performance by 15% and bench-press performance by 6%.

Creatine also helps maintain strength and training performance while increasing muscle mass during intense over-training.

These noticeable improvements are primarily caused by your body’s increased capacity to produce ATP.

Normally, ATP becomes depleted after 8–10 seconds of high-intensity activity. But because creatine supplements help you produce more ATP, you can maintain optimal performance for a few seconds longer.

SUMMARYCreatine is one of the best supplements for improving strength and high-intensity exercise performance. It works by increasing your capacity to produce ATP energy.

Impact on your brain

Just like your muscles, your brain stores phosphocreatine and requires plenty of ATP for optimal function.

Supplementing may improve the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Brain or spinal cord injuries
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Memory and brain function in older adults

Despite the potential benefits of creatine for treating neurological disease, most current research has been performed in animals.

However, one six-month study in children with traumatic brain injury observed a 70% reduction in fatigue and a 50% reduction in dizziness.

Human research suggests that creatine can also aid older adults, vegetarians and those at risk of neurological diseases.

Vegetarians tend to have low creatine stores because they don’t eat meat, which is the main natural dietary source.

In one study in vegetarians, supplementing caused a 50% improvement in a memory test and a 20% improvement in intelligence test scores.

Although it can benefit older adults and those with reduced stores, creatine exhibits no effect on brain function in healthy adults.

SUMMARYCreatine may reduce symptoms and slow the progression of some neurological diseases, although more research in humans is needed.

ther Health Benefits

Research also indicates that creatine may:

  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Improve muscle function and quality of life in older adults
  • Help treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

However, more research in these areas is needed.

SUMMARYCreatine may combat high blood sugar and fatty liver disease, as well as improve muscle function in older adults.

Different Types of Supplements

The most common and well-researched supplement form is called creatine monohydrate.

Many other forms are available, some of which are promoted as superior, though evidence to this effect is lacking.

Creatine monohydrate is very cheap and is supported by hundreds of studies. Until new research claims otherwise, it seems to be the best option.

SUMMARYThe best form of creatine you can take is called creatine monohydrate, which has been used and studied for decades.

Dosage instructions

Many people who supplement start with a loading phase, which leads to a rapid increase in muscle stores of creatine.

To load with creatine, take 20 grams per day for 5–7 days. This should be split into four 5-gram servings throughout the day.

Absorption may be slightly improved with a carb- or protein-based meal due to the related release of insulin.

Following the loading period, take 3–5 grams per day to maintain high levels within your muscles. As there is no benefit to cycling creatine, you can stick with this dosage for a long time.

If you choose not to do the loading phase, you can simply consume 3–5 grams per day. However, it may take 3–4 weeks to maximize your stores.

Since creatine pulls water into your muscle cells, it is advisable to take it with a glass of water and stay well hydrated throughout the day.

SUMMARYTo load with creatine, take 5 grams four times per day for 5–7 days. Then take 3–5 grams per day to maintain levels.

Safety and side effects

Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements available, and studies lasting up to four years reveal no negative effects.

One of the most comprehensive studies measured 52 blood markers and observed no adverse effects following 21 months of supplementing.

There is also no evidence that creatine harms the liver and kidneys in healthy people who take normal doses. That said, those with preexisting liver or kidney problems should consult with a doctor before supplementing.

Although people associate creatine with dehydration and cramps, research doesn’t support this link. In fact, studies suggest it can reduce cramps and dehydration during endurance exercise in high heat.

One 2009 study found that creatine supplementation is associated with an increase in a hormone called DHT, which can contribute to hair loss. More research is needed, but people who are predisposed to hair loss may wish to avoid this supplement.

SUMMARYCreatine exhibits no harmful side effects. Though it’s commonly believed to cause dehydration and cramps, studies don’t support this.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, creatine is one of the cheapest, most effective and safest supplements you can take.

It supports quality of life in older adults, brain health and exercise performance. Vegetarians — who may not obtain enough creatine from their diet — and older adults may find supplementing particularly useful.

Creatine monohydrate is likely the best form. Try out creatine today to see if it works for you.

Diet Plan for Weight Loss

Are you looking for the best Pakistani Diet Plan to lose weight? The rules are simple.

All you need to do is start eating right food. However, in Pakistan, this can feel like an insurmountable challenge, given our food culture and dietary habits. For instance, a typical Pakistani meal is high in carbohydrates and sugar – we eat a lot of potatoes, rice, and sweets.

We also love our snacks and can’t imagine a day without our fix of namkeens. Even we encourage our friends and family into eating more, as a sign of hospitality and affection, and consider refusing, an extra helping a rebuff. To top it all, we’ve never embraced physical exercise as essential. So, it isn’t a surprise that Pakistan is battling with a growing problem of obesity.

But, the answer doesn’t lie in shunning Pakistani food in favour of foreign ingredients or fad diets. Moreover, you’ll find that the best Pakistani diet plan consists of foods that you’ve already got in your kitchen and which will enable you to lose weight by making a few changes to your diet.

Understand the Science Behind Weight Loss

Weight loss and gain revolve around caloric consumption and expenditure. Simply put, you lose weight when you consume fewer calories than you expend and you gain weight when you consume more calories than you sweat.

However, simply determining how many calories your body needs isn’t enough. After all, four samosas (600 calories), two slices of pizza (500 calories), and two gulab jamuns (385 calories) may be within your daily requirement of 1500 calories, but these unhealthy food choices will eventually lead to other health problems like high cholesterol and blood sugar.

To lose weight the healthy way, you also need to ensure your Indian diet plan is balanced i.e. it covers all food groups and provides all the nutrients you need necessary for good health.

To help you get started, Our CEO HAZIQ QURESHI designed this diet plan for weight loss, which is just like the one that helps the competitors slim down. With this easy-to-follow plan, you’re sure to feel refreshed and lose weight (if you want to!) in no time.

The Best Diet Plan for Weight Loss

No single food provides all the calories and nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy. That’s why a balanced diet consisting of macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fat along with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, is recommended.

The best Pakistani diet for weight loss is a combination of the five major food groups – fruits and vegetables, cereals and pulses, meat and dairy products, and fats and oils. Furthermore, knowing how to divvy up the food groups, allocate portion sizes, and the best/ideal time to eat is also equally important.

1200 Calorie Weight Loss Diet Chart Plan

A lot can be spoken about what goes into an ideal diet chart. However, one’s nutritional requirement varies based on various factors. It could change depending on gender, for example, male dietary requirements vary from that of a female.

We have put together a diet plan ideal for weight loss with Pakistani food. This 7 day diet plan also known as a 1200 calorie diet plan is a sample, and should not be followed by any individual without consulting a nutritionist.

When it comes to drinks, HAZIQ recommends sticking to no- and low-cal picks like coffee, tea, and water.

And to accelerate weight loss and build a healthy and strong body, HAZIQ suggests doing 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise four times a week. (Can’t go to the Gym? Follow this Home Workout Routine for Weight Loss)


  • After starting your day with cucumber water, have oats porridge and mixed nuts for breakfast.
  • Next, have a roti with dal and gajar matar sabzi for lunch.
  • Follow that up with dal and lauki sabzi along with a roti for dinner.
Day 1 Diet Chart
6:30 AM Cucumber Detox Water (1 glass)
8:00 AM Oats Porridge in Skimmed Milk (1 bowl)

Mixed Nuts (25 grams)

12:00 PM Skimmed Milk Paneer (100 grams)
2:00 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
2:10 PM Dal(1 katori)Gajar Matar Sabzi (1 katori)

Roti (1 roti/chapati)

4:00 PM Cut Fruits (1 cup) Buttermilk (1 glass)
5:30 PM Tea with Less Sugar and Milk (1 teacup)
8:50 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
9:00 PM Dal (1 katori) Lauki Sabzi (1 katori)

Roti (1 roti/chapati)


  • On the second day, eat a mixed vegetable stuffed roti along with curd for breakfast.
  • For lunch, have half a katori of methi rice along with lentil curry.
  • Next, end your day with sautéed vegetables and green chutney.
Day 2 Diet Chart
6:30 AM Cucumber Detox Water (1 glass)
8:00 AM Curd (1.5 katori) Mixed Vegetable Stuffed Roti (2 pieces)
12:00 PM Low fat Cottage Cheese (100 grams)
2:00 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
2:10 PM Lentil Curry (0.75 bowl) Methi Rice (0.5 katori)
4:00 PM Apple (0.5 small (2-3/4″ dia)) Buttermilk (1 glass)
5:30 PM Coffee with Milk and Less Sugar (0.5 tea cup)
8:50 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
9:00 PM Sauteed Vegetables (1 katori) Roti (1 roti/chapati)

Green Chutney (2 tablespoon)


  • Breakfast on day 3 would include Multigrain Toast and Skim Milk Yogurt.
  • In the afternoon, have sauteed vegetables along with paneer and some green chutney.
  • Half a katori of methi rice and some lentil curry to make sure you end the day on a healthy note.
Day 3 Diet Chart
6:30 AM Cucumber Detox Water (1 glass)
8:00 AM Skim Milk Yoghurt (1 cup (8 fl oz)) Multigrain Toast (2 toast)
12:00 PM Low Fat Cottage Cheese (100 grams)
2:00 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
2:10 PM Sauteed Vegetables (1 katori) Roti (1 roti/chapati)

Green Chutney (2 tablespoon)

4:00 PM Banana (0.5 small (6″ to 6-7/8″ long)) Buttermilk (1 glass)
5:30 PM Tea with Less Sugar and Milk (1 teacup)
8:50 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
9:00 PM Lentil Curry (0.75 bowl) Methi Rice (0.5 katori)



  • Start Day 4 with a Fruit and Nuts Yogurt Smoothie and Egg Omelette
  • Follow that up with Moong Dal, Bhindi Sabzi, and roti.
  • Complete the day’s food intake with steamed rice and palak chole.
Day 4 Diet Chart
6:30 AM Cucumber Detox Water (1 glass)
8:00 AM Fruit and Nuts Yogurt Smoothie (0.75 glass)

Egg Omelette (1 serve(one egg))

12:00 PM Low Fat Cottage Cheese (100 grams)
2:00 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
2:10 PM Green Gram Whole Dal Cooked (1 katori) Bhindi sabzi (1 katori)

Roti (1 roti/chapati)

4:00 PM Orange (1 fruit (2-5/8″ dia)) Buttermilk (1 glass)
5:30 PM Coffee with Milk and Less Sugar (0.5 teacup)
8:50 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
9:00 PM Palak Chole (1 bowl) Steamed Rice (0.5 katori)


  • Have a glass of skimmed milk and peas rice for breakfast on the fifth day.
  • Eat a missi roti with Low Fat Cottage Cheese in the afternoon.
  • End the day with roti, curd and aloo baingan tamatar ki sabzi.
Day 5 Diet Chart
6:30 AM Cucumber Detox Water (1 glass)
8:00 AM Skimmed Milk (1 glass) Peas Poha (1.5 katori)
12:00 PM Skimmed Milk Paneer (100 grams)
2:00 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
2:10 PM Low Fat Cottage Cheese (1.5 katori) Missi Roti (1 roti)
4:00 PM Papaya (1 cup 1″ pieces) Buttermilk (1 glass)
5:30 PM Tea with Less Sugar and Milk (1 teacup)
8:50 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
9:00 PM Curd (1.5 katori) Aloo Baingan Tamatar Ki Sabzi (1 katori)

Roti (1 roti/chapati)


  • On Day 6, have a Fruit and Nuts Yogurt Smoothie and Egg Omelette
  • For lunch, roti with curd and aloo baingan tamatar ki sabzi
  • To end Day 6, eat green gram with roti and bhindi sabzi
Day 6 Diet Chart
6:30 AM Cucumber Detox Water (1 glass)
8:00 AM Fruit and Nuts Yogurt Smoothie (0.75 glass)

Egg Omelette (1 serve(one egg))

12:00 PM Low Fat Cottage Cheese (100 grams)
2:00 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
2:10 PM Curd (1.5 katori) Aloo Baingan Tamatar Ki Sabzi (1 katori)

Roti (1 roti/chapati)

4:00 PM Cut Fruits (1 cup) Buttermilk (1 glass)
5:30 PM Coffee with Milk and Less Sugar (0.5 tea cup)
8:50 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
9:00 PM Green Gram Whole Dal Cooked (1 katori)Bhindi sabzi (1 katori)

Roti (1 roti/chapati)

fresh scrambled eggs on white plate on breakfast table


  • On the seventh day, start with besan chilla and green garlic chutney.
  • Have steamed rice and palak chole for lunch.
  • End the week on a healthy note with low fat paneer curry and missi roti.
Day 7 Diet Chart
6:30 AM Cucumber Detox Water (1 glass)
8:00 AM Besan Chilla (2 cheela) Green Garlic Chutney (3 tablespoon)
12:00 PM Low Fat Cottage Cheese (100 grams)
2:00 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
2:10 PM Palak Chole (1 bowl) Steamed Rice (0.5 katori)
4:00 PM Apple(0.5 small (2-3/4″ dia)) Buttermilk (1 glass)
5:30 PM Tea with Less Sugar and Milk (1 teacup)
8:50 PM Mixed Vegetable Salad (1 katori)
9:00 PM Low Fat Cottage Cheese (1 katori) Missi Roti (1 roti)

5. Pakistani Weight Loss Diet Plan Meal Swaps

One of the easiest ways to eat healthy is to swap out the unhealthy foods from your Indian Diet plan is with its healthier alternatives.

For example, fulfil your cravings for a snack to munch on with air popped popcorn instead of relying on potato chips.

Along with a balanced Weight loss diet chart plan, these habits will help you stay healthy:

  • Opt for 5-6 meals a day: Instead of three large meals, try having three modest meals and a few snack breaks in controlled portions for the day. Spacing your meals across regular intervals prevents acidity and bloating and also keeps hunger pangs at bay. So, quit your junk food habit by making healthier snacking choices in your indian diet plan.
  • Have an early dinner: Indians eat dinner later than the other societies across the world. Since metabolism slows down at night, a late dinner can lead to weight gain. Experts recommend you eat your last meal of the day by 8 pm.
  • Drink a lot of water: How does drinking more water help you lose weight? For starters, it’s zero calories. Also, drinking a glass of water can help curb hunger pangs. Have six to eight glasses of water daily to lose weight and also find a list of drinks that will help you lose weight here.
  • Eat a lot of fiber: A person needs at least 15 gm of fiber every day, as it aids digestion and heart health. Oats, lentils, flax seeds, apples and broccoli are some great sources of fiber.

In conclusion to everything stated above. you don’t necessarily have to ditch your regular food habits or make massive changes to your diet, all you need is to follow the best balanced Indian diet plan to get fit!

Burn Fat At Home With This Hardcore 10 Minute Home Workout Routine

Today I’ll be sharing with you my favorite home workout program packed with one of the best exercises you can do at home that will help deliver amazing fat loss results!

Something that I have spoken about before is:

How people tend to misunderstand the way cardio exercises work and how they are suppose to help you lose body fat.

Most often, when we hear the word cardio we immediately envision low-intensity exercises such as jogging or light cycling.

That can go on for anywhere from 30 minutes to hours.

I mean, don’t get me wrong…

If you enjoy going for a long walk or jog, then by all means go ahead and do so. But if you expect to use these formats of cardio exercise to burn body fat and anticipate great results…

Think again!

You might see some good results from the start, simply because you’re introducing something new that your body is not used to so it reacts to it.

But as soon some time passes you will hit a plateau. And you’re also putting your muscle mass in danger – literally the last thing you want to do!

In order for a cardio workout to be effective:

It needs to be short and explosive so that you burn a lot of calories and elevate your metabolism – i.e. you burn calories after the workout has passed. Read more about it here.

Some claim that the after-burn effect may last for as long as 48 hours.

This is why I decided to share with you my…

Hardcore 10 Minute Home Workout to Burn Fat

Before we get started I want to share a couple of things with you about the workout.

Something valuable worth nothing about the workout is that it’s of high intensity nature.

What this means, simply, is that it’s hard. And when I say hard, I mean hard.  It kicks butt.

If you feel like you cannot keep with the workout, don’t quit.

Lower the intensity, slow down a bit, take a 30-40 second rest if you have to. But do not stop until you finish the workout so that you can gain the full fat-burning benefit off of it.

The whole idea behind this cardio workout is to provide you with a convenient way for you to stay in shape and lose a couple of extra pounds of body fat before the summer season comes.

The workout requires no gym equipment, and no gym. It’s made up of exercises you can do at home. Or anywhere for that matter.

And it only takes 10 minutes to complete. What this means is that no matter how busy your schedule is  – you can easily spare 10 minutes. Especially when knowing that a simple 600 seconds of your day can help you get in a better shape.

Here is a little trick you can implement if you want to lose even more fat. After your workout do a steady-state low-intensity exercise (such as jogging or walking).

The 5 minute HIIT workout mobilises fatty cells to enter the blood stream. And the low intensity exercise will make sure that they are used for energy instead of returning back.

Keep in mind this will not make a whole lot of a difference, but it will help you burn off some extra fat.

Something else – do NOT forget about your diet!

The food that you eat is of great importance when trying to lose body fat. Stuff such as lowering carb intake, lowering calorie intake, meal timing, etc.

Be careful, though! Do not lower your carb or calorie intake too much as you can damage your muscle storages. I.e. lose muscle.

And lastly, do not do this workout too often. Twice or three times a week is plenty to get really good results.

You don’t want to overtrain your body. As that could lead to hitting a plateau or even worse – muscle loss.

Scary, I know!

Lastly, before we get started, I wanted to say that the exercises that are in this workout are not mandatory, per se. There are numerous other exercises that you use or add to the already existing ones. Check out The Top 10 Exercises to do at Home from where you can select an exercise or two. This way you can maintain a good variability and make sure that you don’t get easily bored of your workout.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it.

Let’s jump in.

The workout is comprised of 10 different exercises – where you take 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off.

In other words: you spend 45 seconds doing the exercise, rest for 15 seconds and move on to the next exercise.

Conveniently enough, what this also means is that you don’t need to count any reps, just make sure you cover the 45 second mark.

The intensity at which you carry out each exercise during those 45 seconds is up to you. If you want to burn more calories – increase the intensity.

If you’re just starting out and feel like you won’t be able to keep up – keep the intensity lower.

During your 15 seconds of rest you can do whatever you want. Make sure that you have a water bottle nearby so you can stay hydrated and make use of your valuable resting time.

Pretty simple. Right?

So, here is what I am going to do now. I am going to go through each exercise that is in order and explain what is the proper way to execute it.

Keep in mind, the order of the exercises is not mandatory.

I’ve just arranged the exercises in a way so that while you are working out one muscle group you are giving your other muscles enough time to recuperate.

However, if you want to change things up, go ahead and so!

Let’s start with the first exercise:

1. Burpees – Best Exercise to do at Home


As I’ve said before – the burpee exercise is one of the simplest and most effective way to burn body fat. Which should explain to you why I’ve placed this exercise first on the list.

Best part is that it can help you build some muscle definition along the way.

Burpees is also a highly variable exercise. What I mean by that is that there are a lot of ways to do the exercise.

This is good as by adding variation to your workout you can burn more calories and most importantly you will keep yourself entertained and not get bored of doing the same thing over and over.

One of the best Burpee variations include:

Spiderman Burpee
Rotational Jump Burpee
Mountain Climber Burpee
Box Jump Burpee
Renegade Row Burpee
Side Plank Burpee
Weighted Burpee
Pike Push-Up Burpee
Tuck Jump Burpee
Medicine Ball Burpee
Single-Leg Push-Up Burpee
Broad Jump Burpee

But for this workout we are going to stick with the classic “Push-up Burpee”. All in all, the Burpee is probably one of the best and most simple exercises to do at home.

How to: Burpees are pretty straightforward.

From a standing position get down in a squat. Place your hands on the ground at shoulder width.

Kick back your feet behind you into a plank position. Drop down to do a push-up. When returning back to your starting position jump up from the plank to a squat again. From there you would want to make a jump with your hands lifted upwards.

Where everything is really well explained and visualized.

If you really want to boost the intensity of the exercise then what you can do is as you are jumping upward, you can tuck your knees towards your chest.

Check out this video that showcases the Burpee to knee tuck perfectly. I’ve got to warn you the video’s quality is quite poor!


2. Knee taps

Don’t let the simple nature of this exercise to fool you. It’s no joke! At the end of your 45 seconds you’ll be left begging for mercy.

How to: Knee taps are pretty simple to execute.

From a standing position start raising your left or right knee as high as you can. Alternate your knees in a run-like motion. As if you’re running in place.

Obviously this is not mandatory, but you can keep your hands to about the level where you raise your knees so that once your knees reach that level they “tap” your hands. That’s essentially from where the name “knee taps” comes from.

If you want to add some variation to this exercise what you can do is do a double-leg jump. In other words: left knee, right knee, both knees. This will also help add some intensity to the already hardcore exercise.

3. Squat Jumps

Another great exercise you can do at home.

While the squat is a great exercise to train your quads and glutes it can also be an amazing cardio exercise that will get your heart racing.

Even more so by implementing a jump element.

How to: You start from a standing position. Make sure that your feet are at shoulder width.

From there you would want to drop down into a squat. Make sure that you keep your back straight.

From there, as you’re coming back to your starting position instead of returning to your standing position you are going to jump up. In similar fashion as the Burpee – with your hands pointing up.

Again, similar to the Burpee, if you want to boost the intensity of this exercise you can add a knee tuck at the end.


4. Jumping Jacks

One of the oldest and yet best cardio exercises that will help you burn a ton of fat.

I don’t believe that it’s necessary for me to explain how to properly do a jumping jack, but I will do regardless.

How to: From a standing position make sure that your feet are together and your hands are at your sides.

Jump up and simultaneously spread your feet and raise your arms above your head. As shown on the GIF above.


5. Seated Side-to-Side Leg Raises

This exercise is an absolute killer! It will leave you exhausted and your core muscles aching.

Something that I specifically love about this exercise is that it trains your obliques. You know, the one muscles at your abs at the side that make your abs look extra cool.

You would want to make sure that you’re seated on a comfortable surface. If you don’t have a yoga mat, or something of the likes, you can just place a pillow underneath.

How to: Start from a sitting position. Place your hands on the ground to your side for stability.

Your goal is to raise your legs from the ground (hence the name leg raises). Swing your feet from one side to the other in an arch-like fashion.

Make sure that you are raising your legs as high as you possibly can. Don’t just swing them from side to side. Imagine that you are making an arch with your legs.

Here is what I would recommend doing:

Place something in front of yourself. It doesn’t matter what – it can be anything a coffee mug, a tennis ball, or even your phone. And just make sure that your goal is to get your feet over the object whilst moving them from left to right.

If you really want to make sure that you’re not going to lower your legs you can raise the stakes. A good way would be to use a taller object. Just make sure it’s nothing “breakable”.

Trust me it helps.

6. Mountain Climbers

Want a flat belly? Let super-simple mountain climbers help you out

I love this exercise.

Probably because of the same reason why I really like the Burpee – there is a ton of variety that can be added.

For this workout I will be reviewing the traditional mountain climber.

However, you can use any format you wish in your workout.

How to: Start from a plank position – with your hands at shoulder width and your legs stretched back on your toes.

By engaging your core, bring one knee towards under your chest. Switch legs and bring the other knee forward. The pace that you should be going at is as if you are running in place in a plank position.


7. Bicycles

No. Don’t worry.

You’re not going to actually cycle. I’m referring to the bicycle crunches – the ab exercise.

This exercise is great as it keeps your heart rate going while at the same time working your whole core – i.e. your upper abs, lower abs and obliques.

How to: Lie flat on your back with your hands placed at the back of your head. Make sure you keep your shoulder blade off the ground, but do not pull on your neck.

Then you would want to shrug your knees where your knees are parallel to your pelvis.

Move the left knee forward to your chest, while extending your right leg. Make sure that, while extended, your leg is still off the ground. Simultaneously, twist and move your opposing elbow (i.e. right one) towards your left knee where they meet in the middle of your abdomen.

Immediately from there switch to the left elbow touching the right knee, while the left leg is extended at the same 45 degree angle. While, of course still remaining off the ground.

Make sure that you nicely rotate your upper body to achieve the full range of motion. In other words, make sure that your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.

If this is your first time doing the exercise, have a couple of experimental rounds before starting the workout. It might seem strange to you but this exercise can be quite confusing for many to perform correctly.

At this point of the workout you are probably quite tired. However, try and maintain a moderately fast tempo.

After just a couple of seconds of doing the exercise you’re going to feel a burning sensation in your abdomen. That’s just the exercise kicking your ass.

8. In-and-Out


Ironically enough, this fat-burning exercise carries the name of a well known fast food restaurant chain.

In-and-outs can be mistaken for the 1/2 Burpees, however they are not quite the same.

In the 1/2 Burpees you actually stand up once you have brought your knees towards your chest. Whereas here, you are only going to do that, bring your knees towards your chest from a plank position with a bit of a spring or jump in the movement.

I understand that his form may seem odd to some people, but the widen legs actually help with stability and allow for him to bring his knees beyond his chest area. Thus, allowing for a more explosive movement.

9. Leg Flutters

Here's How to Do Flutter Kicks — and Modify Them | POPSUGAR Fitness

Leg flutters is one of those exercises that you just hate and love doing.

Hate, because they are hard as hell to do, especially at this point of the workout. And love because they bring great results.

If you thought the bicycles really made your abs burn. Oh, boy. You’re in for a ride.

How to: Lie flat on your back, preferably on a comfortable surface.

I don’t know about you, but especially when it comes to leg flutters, if I am not lying on a comfortable surface it really hurts my tail bone.

The placement of your hands is really up to you. You can place them behind your head or you can place them next to your body with your palms facing downward and touching the group for stability.

If you choose the latter, you might feel a bit more unwanted tension on your neck. Just don’t cheat and put your hands underneath your bum as that will make the exercise easier and thus eliminate its purpose.

Raise your legs about 4-6 inches (10-15cm) off the ground. This is your starting position. Raise one leg higher than the other one (not too much) and then switch legs in a “fluttering” motion.

10. Russian Twists

Last exercise. You have to give it your all.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a dumbbell or kettlebell do to a Russian twist. You can use one, if you have one available, but if you don’t, don’t worry.

The key of the exercises is the twisting motion of your upper body, which really works on your abdominal obliques.

And because your legs are going to stay off the ground, it’s also going to work out your lower abs as well.

How to: Start off by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and your feet resting on the ground.

Lean your upper body back at a 45 degree angle. Make sure you keep your back straight. Engage your core to lift your feet off the ground. You can keep your knees bent if you want to or you can extend your legs. Remember that if extended you will place more pressure on your lower abs.

Bring your hands together in front of your chest while keeping your elbows bent. Rotate your arms the one side and then do the same for the other side. Imagine as if you are putting a certain object from one side to the other.

If it helps, you can grab something to hold in your hands. It doesn’t have to be something heavy, just an object that will help you visualize the exercise better.


Well there you have it – a powerful workout with simple exercises to do at home that will help you burn fat. No gym membership required, no equipment required. Pretty cool, right?

Give yourself a tap on the back if you’ve managed to finish this workout. You deserve it!

I am completely repeating myself by saying this, but remember that while this workout is really useful and will genuinely help you burn more body fat, it’s not a magical button that will just grant you results. And even more importantly it does not mean that you can just include this workout to your arsenal and expect to achieve great results without touching your diet. Nutrition comes first, then exercise.

Tell me what you think

In the comments bellow let me know what you think about the workout. Will you be trying it anytime soon?

Or, even better, if you have any recommendations that you believe would make the workout even better share them with me. And of course with the others who may benefit from your comment!

Let me know!

Show your support

If you have enjoyed the article or if it was interesting and helpful in anyway please drop a like and a share, it really means a lot and helps the blog grow and shows me your support for my hard work.

Body Recomposition: Build Muscle And Lose Fat At The Same Time

What is body recomposition?

Body recomposition is the idea of building muscle and losing fat at the same time. Or in other words, building muscle while on a caloric deficit.

This right here is one of the oldest and most controversial topics in the history of fitness and bodybuilding.

Speak your mind on the subject and you’re sure as hell going to have an angry mob after yourself.

I mean, after all:

One of the most common pieces of advice that you will hear from fitness experts and influencers is:

In order to lose body weight you need to be in a caloric deficit –  i.e. eat fewer calories than your body requires to maintain its weight.

And in order to gain muscle mass you need to be in a caloric surplus – i.e. eat more calories than your body requires to maintain its weight).

Breon Ansley, two time Mr. Olympia classic physique champion, famously said in a video where he was asked whether you can build muscle in a caloric deficit “NO!”.

Does that mean that if you want to build muscle, but you also want to lose fat that you need to cut first and then bulk. Or bulk first and then cut?

After all, asking whether body recomposition is possible is also asking whether bulking and cutting phases are necessary. It also touches on the topic of maingaining, but for now let’s just focus on recomp.

The short answer is that not only is body recomposition possible, it’s expected.

But why should you listen to me, while there are so many people telling you the exact opposite?

Allow me to take a more scientific approach and let’s first go over what exactly is the muscle building process.

The science of muscle growth


I’ll try and be less technical and boring.

Muscle growth is a signaling dependent process.

The signaling can be broken down into two categories – physical exercise signaling and nutritional signaling.

Let’s take a look at the physical one first.

We lift a weight heavy enough to create active mechanical tension in the muscle. This is called a stimulus.

The stimulus is sensed by sensors, which feel that the muscle is pulled into tension and pass that signal on to a molecule called mTOR. mTOR is one of the main things that control the growth of cells in the body.

From there, the mTOR goes to the nucleus of the cell and tells the DNA machinery to create a mRNA strand (sort of like a blueprint for building new muscle).

Those blueprints are sent to a Ribosome, which is like a muscle building factory, that manufactures a string of amino acids based on the blueprint in a process known as translation.

Translation is what you’ve commonly heard being referred to as muscle protein synthesis.

If protein synthesis is greater than protein breakdown (i.e. synthesis > breakdown) then new muscle fibers are created leading to more muscle size.

The nutritional signaling is triggered from amino acids in the protein we eat.

Here, the amino acids are transported into the cell where one of the 9 essential amino acids, Leucine, also activates mTOR.

Then the other 8 essential amino acids make their way to the ribosome where they are used as the fundamental building blocks for building muscle.

I know, I know.

Not the most exciting stuff. But understanding how muscle growth works is essential to understand why body recomposition works.

To summarize:

Exercise is what promotes muscle growth while protein helps support the process and provide the building blocks necessary to repair and build muscle.

So far nothing new. We already know this.

But the main keyword here is “caloric deficit” or “caloric surplus”. So, what role do calories play in all of this?

Well let’s have a closer look into what calories are.


What are calories


Calories are a unit of energy that are contained in food.

But not all calories are created equal.

There are three main caloric sources: carbs (1g = 4 calories), protein (1g = 4 calories), and fats (1g = 9 calories).

These three are commonly referred to as macronutrients or macros.

The energy gained from these macros is used differently by the body.

Carbs are used as your primary energy source – everything from walking to your brain function is powered by them.

Protein calories are used to rebuild and build tissue- from organs, to muscles, to hair.

Calories from fats are used by the body to support cell growth, energy when broken down into fatty acids, protect your organs, promote the production of important hormones, etc.

The calories you gain from these three macros serve a different purpose.

Yes, they all can be technically used for energy to fuel daily activities, but the body has a structure that makes the whole process more efficient and reduces waste.

So, does that mean that when you’re in a caloric surplus that you gain all of those calories just from protein. Is all of that excessive protein calories what drives muscle growth.


That would be impossible, if you had to be in a 500 caloric surplus that means that you’d have to eat 125 grams of protein ABOVE what you’re already eating.

When you’re bulking, the majority of your calories come from carbs and fats – both of which have NOTHING to do (sort of) with muscle growth.

What you are essentially doing when you’re bulking is introducing a lot more energy in your body than what it needs to maintain your weight.

And what happens with all of that excess energy?

It gets stored as body fat.

This study shows how by placing participants in a caloric surplus of 600 calories. What happened?

They gained three times as much fat and they gained…

Wait for it.

0.5% more muscle than the control group who were not in a caloric surplus.


I’ll repeat that again, 3 times more body fat and only 0.5% more muscle than the group that was not in a caloric surplus.

And even bold it.

And there’s this study, where the researchers concluded:

“…there does not appear to be any metabolic or functional benefit to the source of the energy surplus”

Here’s the worst part.

Even if you gained more muscle during your bulking phase, you’re probably going to lose it all during your cutting phase.

Bulking only creates a short-term illusion of adding strength and size. And once you enter in a caloric deficit, and your body weight drops as a result, and you’re not able to push as heavy loads at the gym, you’re going to lose all of the bonus muscle you had gained.


Let’s do some muscle math.

In a realistic example, let’s say that you’ve been working out for 3 months.

Let’s say you’ve gained 2kg of muscle (4.4lbs) and lost 1 kg (2.2lbs) of fat.

We know that 1kg of muscle is equal to 1,800 calories.

While 1kg of fat is equal to 9,400 calories.

This is because muscle is mostly made up of water, it has a lot less stored energy than fat does.

So that means that in the time span of those three months you would’ve gained 3,600 calories.

And lost 9,400 calories.

So even though you would’ve gained 1kg (2.2lbs) of total bodyweight, there was a total net energy deficit of 5,800 calories, spread across those three months.

Or a deficit of 65 calories per day.

And this is only scratching the surface, there is a plethora of scientific literature that shows us that body recomposition is absolutely achievable.

This 2016 study, for example, shows that on average subjects lost about 5kg (11lbs) of fat mass, while gaining about a 1kg of lean muscle mass.

But most participants in such studies are usually novice trainees. People who had just recently started working out and gotten on a high protein diet of 1g per 1lbs. And they were using progressive overload in their workouts – i.e. gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions and sets when exercising a muscle.

So this begs the question:

Is body recomposition possible for someone who has been exercising for some time now.


Is body recomposition for everyone?

For the longest time, people used to believe that body recomposition can only occur in untrained new lifters and overweight people.

Makes sense, new lifters have the tendency to easily put on muscle and overweight people have large reserves of energy stored as body fat.

But recent data shows us that even experienced athletes are capable of building muscle while losing fat as shown in this study.

What about people with low body fat percentages?

Probably the only people who cannot benefit from body recomposition are those who already have low body fat percentages – say 6-10%.

But then, you don’t need to be in a caloric deficit.

If you continue dieting you’re going to increase the risk of losing muscle mass. As your body fat percentage drops, your body will do its best to maintain its body fat storages and will break down muscle tissue to decrease the total amount of calories necessary.

Because more muscle also means you burn more calories. Your BMR increases.

As a result you will also lack the necessary calories to help fuel your workouts and be able to lift heavier weights and maintain the intensity of your training.

If you’re in such a situation it would benefit you to eat more.


Bottom line

In conclusion, you can absolutely build muscle in a caloric deficit.

It’s not just for novice lifters or overweight people. It’s achievable by anyone.

But body recomposition is not desired when you’re already at low body fat percentages. As you’re going to jeopardize your muscle mass and strength.

Make sure that you’re eating a high protein diet of 0.8g to 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, if you weigh 170lbs (77kg) eat about 136g to 170g of protein.

And make sure that you’re using progressive overload in your workouts.


Our CEO HAZIQ QURESHI isn’t ready to lose all of his hard-earned muscle and definition just yet! Haziq explains the supplements he uses to stay fit and young.

In a lot of ways, I am your typical middle-aged guy. I have a moderately stressful corporate job but on the other hand, as a competitive bodybuilder and strength athlete, I am far from typical. Aside from people asking me, “Where do you find the time to train?” questions, I am most frequently asked questions about the supplements I use. I wanted to take this time to demystify the world of supplements and give you my two cents on supplements for guys like us.


The supplement industry is robust and has products and formulas intended to help consumers in all aspects of life, but when it comes to staying athletic and fit, especially when you’re out of your 20s, there are some go-to products that rise above all of the others. In my opinion, these are protein powderscreatine, and immune system support. I personally use these in my daily routine and would recommend them to all the other 30 and 40 something dudes out there trying to cling on to their youth.


Protein powder, specifically whey protein or whey protein isolate, is so crucial in my daily diet that I really consider it more like a food versus a supplement. A quick Google of protein will convince you that protein is the key “macronutrient” for building and maintaining muscle. Unlike carbohydrates, proteins are rarely seen by the body as “empty calories”; in fact, quite the opposite is true. It’s sometimes a challenge to get enough protein into your daily diet, and this is where the convenience of protein powders comes in. Protein powders generally provide the body with large amounts of quality protein, but with little to no calories coming from carbs or fats. These powders make it easy to get the nutrients you need without any extra calories. I generally consume one or two protein shakes a day; I typically mix two scoops of protein powder in water and consider it a meal. This is a quick, easy, and tasty way to get a quality meal in while in an office environment.


If protein powders transcend the supplement world and are more of a food to me, then I can honestly say that creatine is the most important supplement in my nutrition plan. To me, fighting middle-age means maintaining the same body composition I had in my 20s. Creatine, which WebMD mentions can help “improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help the muscles recover more quickly during exercise,” is an amazing tool. Maybe I am still stuck in the 1990s, but no supplement has ever helped me to gain/keep strength better than creatine! It is inexpensive to buy but it is time-tested and effective. Creatine really is the perfect weapon in the war against aging. I will usually consume five grams of creatine a day for six to eight weeks and then take a month off before starting a new cycle.


It’s no secret that we are unfortunately living in the age of COVID-19 and everyone from physicians to TV reporters have been recommending things like zinc, vitamin C, elderberry, and other natural vitamins and minerals to supercharge everyone’s immune systems. If you are like me though, you have work responsibilities and a team in the office that makes total sequestration at home impossible. I believe that it is important to take these vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system as a preventative measure, particularly those of us working in an office environment during the coronavirus global pandemic. You should look for an all-in-one supplement that contains all the above ingredients, and perhaps even some other ingredients that have also been proven to help fight off colds and support immune defense.


In conclusion, success in fitness, requires some planning and strategy. I know that finding the right supplements to fit into your lifestyle and fitness goals can seem overwhelming but do not overthink it. In my opinion, you should start out with structuring a healthy diet and nutrition plan for yourself and then see where the supplements fit in (like finding the right time to consume a protein shake). Also, you need to remember the value that daily exercise brings to the battle against growing old and how leveraging the supplement as tools can help to support healthy muscle function (like incorporating creatine). Remember to always stay focused on staying healthy, particularly with flu season starting and COVID-19 lingering.


Looking to give your immune system a boost? You’ve come to the right place. X FREAK FITNESS got you covered with a few tips and tricks that will keep you feeling strong inside and out.


Stuck inside your house? Take this time to work towards your fitness goals. Exercise not only helps boost your mood, but can reduce inflammation and support infection-fighting cells.

Make every rep count by adding a Pre-workout — These powerful Pre-workouts Will help deliver max strength, energy, and endurance.


Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your stress levels low. Spend some time every day relaxing and rejuvenating your body and your mind. Whether it’s soaking in a hot bath, stretching out with some yoga, or just taking a walk around the neighborhood, your body will benefit inside and out.


Getting enough sleep is essential to rejuvenating and restoring your body and immune system. Take advantage of the extra time you’re spending at home and catch a few more Zzz’s throughout the day. Hit the snooze button in the morning, take an early-afternoon nap, or just set your bedtime a few hours earlier — no matter how you get some extra shuteye, your body and mind will thank you.



Wash your hands often and thoroughly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends scrubbing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or the amount of time it would take you to hum the Happy Birthday song twice. Not sure when to wash? Check out the CDC’s recommendations below:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After touching garbage
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats



Load up on foods that are high in antioxidants — like fruits and vegetables. They can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, especially when your body is trying to fight off infection.

Can’t get to the store? We’ll deliver immune support right to your door. Like our Immune Support Stack, an all-natural duo designed to enhance the wellbeing of your mind and body. It features X FREAK FITNESS Performance Health, which combines Vitamins A and E with blue algae to help protect your body from free radicals and support your body’s natural defense systems. And BPI Performance Immune, an all-natural, Vitamin C-packed immune support supplement that can help maintain your overall health and wellness.*

What are your favorite ways to relieve stress? Share your self-care habits with us on social media.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


You hear about amino acids and BCAAs all of the time but do you really know what they do and how they help your performance in the gym? X FREAK FITNESS CEO HAZIQ QURESHI gives you the simple breakdown on branched-chain amino acids and explains why aminos should be taken by all athletes.

So, what’s so great about BCAAs? Picture yourself as one of the millions of sports nutrition consumers who have walked into a Vitamin Shoppe store and been overwhelmed by the endless number of products intended to help you reach their fitness goals. From energy drinks and pre-workouts, to diet and keto supplements, to vitamins and beyond, there’s literally hundreds of thousands of pills and powders available that it can often be overwhelming. In this sea of vitamins and supplements, you’ll see that amino acids, specifically branched-chain amino acids (also known as BCAAs), is one of the largest categories available.


Before we jump down the BCAA wormhole, it is important to put context to the broader amino acid category, all the way from complete proteins down to individual amino acids. At the simplest level, anyone who can remember high school science class (or use Google) will be able to provide the default definition that amino acids “are the building blocks of proteins.”

While that sounds great and is 100% correct, what does it mean? I look at the definition like this, there are three major “macronutrient” categories: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Within these macronutrient categories there are plenty of levels to drill down into. For example, people generally understand that carbs can be simple sugars or complex carbohydrates; the same is true for protein. You can look at protein as a whole or as individual amino acids, hence “the building blocks of protein” definition.

In published research found on, Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., offers a typical technical definition of amino acids:

An organic compound characterized by having a carboxyl group, amino group, and side-chain attached to a central carbon atom. Amino acids are used as precursors for other molecules in the body. Linking amino acids together forms polypeptides, which may become proteins.

For those of us who aren’t Ph.Ds, I would translate that to mean that aminos are the smallest and most basic compounds found in all living things, from microbes to humans; therefore, amino acids are found in the foods that we eat.

I also want to mention that outside of the food/dietary contest on which this blog focuses, amino acids are used to build a variety of molecules essential for life; for instance, amino acids are used as neurotransmitters and lipid transports. Amino acids are so abundant and important to the human body that they only come second to water but you will have to read about that in a blog from someone else because I’m not capable of understanding the technical chemistry stuff.



Now that we have some context on what amino acids are, things get a lot easier to understand. Remembering that amino acids are the building blocks of protein, it is important to understand that the difference between essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. In total, there are twenty amino acids; we typically get all of them in our diet and some are even made by the body, but a few are not…

• 11 of the 20 amino acids are known as “non-essential” because they can be synthesized by the body (as in made from stuff already floating around in our bellies). These aminos include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.

• The other nine of the 20 amino acids cannot be synthesized in our bodies and we need to make sure to consume them through our diets; accordingly, this set of aminos are called “essential.” These include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

For the most part, if you are following a specific or limited nutrition plan, you will get all the essential aminos you need from the protein in the food you eat. It is important to note, however, that some foods are known as having “incomplete proteins” because they do not contain all 20 amino acids. This is a particular challenge for vegetarians since most vegetable proteins often fall into this category. This issue can be easily managed and evaded by combining two different protein sources together; for instance, you could combine beans with rice. This combo would give you all the 20 aminos your body needs to function.

Now I will drill down a level deeper and speak to you about branched-chain aminos specifically. The three aminos that are known as branched-chain amino acids (or BCAAs) are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Back in the day, when I first started getting into supplements and nutrition, my first question was what the heck does “branched-chain” even mean? The clearest technical definition I found was on PubMed, stating that a BCAA is “an amino acid having an aliphatic side-chain with a branch (a central carbon atom bound to three or more carbon atoms).” Basically, the phrase “branched-chain” refers to the chimerical structure of these three aminos. This is good to know but it does not really shed much light on the performance benefits of this special group of amino acids.


As said above, the first and most obvious reason why athletes love BCAAs goes back to the fact that they are part of the essential amino group and cannot be formed in our bodies. When you really get into it, BCAAs’ real superpowers are the ability to dominate in the metabolic process of muscle protein synthesis.

I am going to try to explain muscle protein synthesis in my own words so please pardon some broad strokes. Through the stress of exercise, muscles are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. The breaking down part comes from your body pulling the amino acids out of the muscle protein and using (or synthesizing) them for energy or some other metabolic function. The process of synthesizing proteins back into the muscle for repair and rebuilding is where athletes make gains because theoretically, the muscles are going to build back a little stronger each time, and BCAAs play a crucial role in all this.

After a long run, hard WOD, or killer workout, you are probably going to be sore. Sometimes people refer to this as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is that feeling you get in the days after your workout, where your muscles are fatigued and in recovery mode. Whatever you call it, you know you need to recover from the workout, rebuild the muscles, and if all goes according to plan, come back better! Numerous studies have shown that BCAAs, particularly leucine, are the most important dietary requirement in sparking repair. There are dozens of studies proving this, including the Front Physiol study from 2017 where participants who consumed a BCAA drink with ~5g of BCAAs saw a 22% increase in muscle protein synthesis (meaning faster and stronger recovery).

Complementing this, several other studies, including one by Am J Physiol in 1994, have shown that supplementing with BCAAs may also help reduce the amount of protein breaking down during exercise. Studies from Alexandre Fouré and David Bendahan, along with a 2013 international study in the Journal J Exerc Nutrition Bioche, led to the conclusion that supplementing with BCAAs before exercise may speed up recovery times.

In sifting through a wealth of studies and articles online, I found endless articles showing that BCAAs may have performance boosting benefits for runners, soccer players, football players, cyclists, cross-fitters, bodybuilders, and powerlifters. All of this research really showed that BCAAs brought value to athletes from all parts of the fitness spectrum; I must say, I was really blown away by the amount of research available on branched-chain amino acids.

Another interesting thing about BCAAs that I noticed when doing my research for this blog is the amount of research regarding BCAAs and weight loss. To sum up all the stuff I read, there’s general support that BCAAs aid in weight loss. Most articles attribute this to the fact that supplementing with BCAAs helped curb hunger for people on a calorie restricted diet. There were also articles showing that BCAAs helped women lose weight, but those were often “in conjunction with an exercise program.” It seems to me that since BCAAs deliver a negligible amount of calories while also helping with physical performance, muscle function, and gut satiety, that they are a logical inclusion in a weight loss plan for both men and women.


“No pain, no gain” is one of the best fitness clichés ever stated. Yes, strenuous exercise leaves a person feeling sore but science has learned that recovering from that soreness (or the “pain”) is what’s going to add pounds to your bench press, and/or take a few seconds off your time in a 5K. Protein and the amno acids it contains, specifically the three branched-chain aminos, light the fuse for the recovery part of that equation and get you back in the gym, or on the track, ready to race into the next round of gains.



There is a lot of research indicating sleep may be just as crucial to athletic performance as showing up to practice.

In my view, there are three specific biological benefits proper sleep delivers which are crucial to success on the field, in the gym, and in life:

  • Improved Athletic Performance
  • Increased Mental Acuity
  • Healthier Immune Function


A quick google of “Sleep and Athletic Performance” will yield enough data and studies to convince you there’s a correlation before you even need to open a link. This has been an area of scientific research since the 1930s, and accredited journals have published studies on athletes from all corners of the sports world, from NFL teams to cyclists, to sprinters, basketball players, weight lifters, etc.

Perhaps the easiest way to sum things up comes from the abstract of an article titled simply “Sleep and Athletic Performance” found in the National Library of Medicine:

Along with being an integral part of the recovery and adaptive process between bouts of exercise, accumulating evidence suggests that increased sleep duration and improved sleep quality in athletes are associated with improved performance and competitive success. In addition, better sleep may reduce the risk of both injury and illness in athletes, not only optimizing health but also potentially enhancing performance through increased participation in training.

Complementing this, I saw a ton of articles showing the relationship between poor sleep and obesity, propensity to sports related injury, and even asthma. So indeed, there is no doubt that proper sleep habits are a key pillar to peak athletic performance.

As any coach would tell ya, peak athletic performance isn’t just a matter of physical performance but mental performance as well. So, can a good night’s sleep really make you smarter on the field or more focused in the gym? The decisive answer is YES.

In its defining statement, the nonprofit organization the Sleep Foundation lays out the basics of what proper rest does for your brain and nervous system:

Brain activity fluctuates during sleep, increasing and decreasing during different sleep stages that make up the sleep cycle. In NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, overall brain activity slows, but there are quick bursts of energy. In REM sleep, brain activity picks up rapidly, which is why this stage is associated with more intense dreaming.

Each stage plays a role in brain health, allowing activity in different parts of the brain to ramp up or down and enabling better thinking, learning, and memory. Research has also uncovered that brain activity during sleep has profound effects on emotional and mental health.

In my non-medical opinion, it seems that your brain is a lot like your muscles, in that it needs a rest-phase to rebound from the stresses of activity. Just like a runner might take a few days off after competing in a race to let the muscles and joints recover, the brain needs sleep time to cycle through its restorative processes. And just as a lack of sleep has negative physical impacts, lack of sleep has also been studied as major factor in mental health problems including depression, anxiety and seasonal affect disorder. In patients with clinical mental illnesses like Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia and ADHA, lack of sleep and/or poor sleep quality is cited as a top exacerbating factor. In fact, sleep and mental health are so intertwined that natural and pharmaceutical sleep aides have become a standard element of the treatment protocols across the spectrum of mental health disorders.

But for athletic performance mental acuity is the goal, and as the Sleep Foundation says, improving sleep offers the most practical way to enhance cognitive performance.

So as an X FREAK athlete, the question becomes how to get proper sleep, and enough sleep? I’m gonna give you five recommendations I personally use which (unlike most of my Blog info) are simply my personal recommendations and not things researched in the peer-reviewed journals:

  1. Exercise daily to ensure your body is welcoming the sleep. I know that on my big workout days, like Leg Day, or Deadlifts I practically pass-out on my feet if I’m up after 10pm.
  2. Create a proper sleeping environment. If you like a room cold, crank the AC… If you’re always cold while you’re sleeping (like me), get a thick comforter. And consider wearing an eye-mask or pulling a small towel over your eyes; that definitely helps me sleep.
  3. Limit alcohol consumption. Even though drinking might make it easier to fall asleep, alcohol can reduce the quality of sleep preventing you from waking up feeling your best (not to mention the hangover).
  4. Prioritize your nighttime sleep. Living in a house with three kids, three dogs, a bird and a wife, I sometimes find myself simply telling the family “I’m done” and heading straight to bed.
  5. Look for natural calming sleep aides. Melatonin and l-tryptophane are two known and trusted natural ingredients I’ve turned to over the years and recommend to friends.