It’s my birthday again 🥳 and this time around I am my own superhero 🦸🏿♂️! I put the mask on and transformed into the Black Panther at 31! I’m going to share what I did in my final 6 weeks before stripping down for photos and putting up back bacon for viewing purposes.
5 kms daily. I’d either run this distance (8 mins per kilometer - turtle gang 🐢) or walk it uphill on a treadmill (5 km/h @ 10-15% incline). All that mattered was covering the distance on a daily basis and keeping my body in motion.
100 reps minimum of sit-ups daily. No days off. It's amazing how after a couple weeks of this practice you start see your stomach compartmentalise itself starting with the top shelf 😅. The belly must go was the motivation behind this.
Gym work 🏋🏿♂️
Changed my lifting formula to sets of 15 - 30 repetitions at a time. I’d pick a weight that would allow me to complete a higher number reps per set till it burns 🔥. The only exercise I moved heavy weight on was deadlift (400lbs +), the rest was lightweight with high intensity and short rest periods not exceeding 1 min. I trained everyday without exception, sometimes twice a day.
I adopted an 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol so my first meal was an early lunch at 11 am and last meal was at 7 pm.
5 - 6 liters of fluid a day, which was 50 - 60 mls x my body weight in kilograms. I peed often but generally felt good and ready to go at a moment’s notice . I tried to, and sometimes failed to avoid juice 🥤 but I did try to limit my overall intake. I’d opt for sugar free cokes and sprite where possible. I’d drink alcohol 🥃 but only on weekends where I’d take a multivitamin before bed to prevent a hangover 😵 the next day. You should try it!
I used the free Life app to track my fasting and eating windows and the free nutritionix app to log my food intake, hydration and daily weight. I believe that what gets measured gets improved so I’d track everything and make adjustments where required.
Photo credit 📸 Ryan J Banda 📞 0974-101553
Supplements for gym goers
Restarting your fitness journey
4 kilos down and counting
Intermittent fasting 101
The belly must go!
Weight Loss Toolbox
Life's been busy the past couple of weeks and after struggling to fit myself into a number of suits I belatedly realized that I had put on some weight. I promptly hopped on the scale and found myself a full 6kgs heavier😵💫. I was shocked! I badly wanted to believe that it was a combination of low grade washing powder and 'made in China' clothing that converted comfortably fitting clothing into body hugging attire. But that's untrue 😩 . Anyway, I have no budget for another wardrobe so these same clothes must serve me. Many in a similar position tend to make full use of what I call a weight loss tool box. I'm going to quickly run through what most of us tend to do to avert a crisis.
Slimming teas 🍵
These are an intermittent solution that can be used for appetite control for anyone struggling with portion control and cravings. Other uses include inducing more urination to drop any excess water weight and pooping 💩 to help with bowel movements and clearing of waste. I view these as useful short term interventions.
Slimming supplements aka fat burners 💊
My personal experience with these has been a mixed bag and the truth is that they don't work unless you do. This means you have to move your body more, even if you're just walking more, watch what you eat and sleep properly to avoid hormonal confusion. Only then will these little pills and powders compliment your efforts. If used in isolation they'll do next to nothing. Note that fat burners are mostly stimulants that get you excited and encourage movement, mixed with thermogenic ingredients that increase body temperature and make you sweat more and/or appetite suppressing ingredients to keep your hunger at bay.
Konjac powder (glucomannan) in particular is a type of fiber weight loss chasers use to fill their stomachs prior to meals. Konjac once ingested expands in the stomach to help keep you full and prevent overeating. Over time eating less can lead to weight loss. Other forms of fiber are useful in any weight loss journey but konjac in my opinion has an edge. I haven't found any locally so if it appeals to you as a weight loss hack then you'd likely have to import it here from places like Bulk Powders UK.
Slimming juices 🥤
These are mostly laxatives in a liquid form. The general idea is to clear the backlog. The products are effective over the short term but they're nasty 🤢 and WILL test the strength of your desire to lose weight quickly. Pooping my way to slenderness by drinking a foul concoction is not my preferred way of doing things. It's uncomfortable and quite literally draining. But hey, to each his own.
Intermittent fasting aka diet ya njala 🍱 ⛔️
If I could do just one thing of everything listed here then it'd be intermittent fasting. It's simple really, your mouth opens at certain times and stays closed at other times. It takes some getting used to but works wonders for weight loss when executed properly.
Sustainable weight loss is only obtained via optimal dietary interventions, exercise and lifestyle adjustments. The weight loss toolbox is a quick fix and desperate attempt to lose weight quickly i.e. I want to fit into that dress by this xxx (date). Outside of intermittent fasting, dependance on other weight loss hacks listed above is unwise. Use them to get to where you want to be and stop. Change your habits and overall behaviour to maintain.
⚠️ People with pre-existing conditions (known or unknown), pregnancies or breastfeeding would be wise to consult a medical practitioner before utilizing any tool in the weight loss toolbox. You might slim yourself into non-existence if you don't know what you're doing.
I grew up believing the infomercials I saw on TV, the pictures and articles I saw and read in magazines. All you had to do was swallow this pill or mix this powder in your favourite drink and it would change your body from the inside out overnight. I genuinely believed that’s all it took and I spent my money on supplements waiting on my body to dramatically change. And when I didn’t see results I increased my investment in a whole cocktail of supplements. It took me a while to break down supplementation and understand what works and what doesn’t.
It's something you take before you work out to give you a little and sometimes big boost ⚡. These are fantastic 'switch on' supplements that can elevate your training by giving you energy and motivation to push harder. However, not all pre-workouts are created equal and not everyone responds the same to them. I'm not loyal to any specific pre-workout, I just look out for a reasonable combination of the following ingredients at these dosages to ensure energy, focus and a pump:
Creatine Monohydrate 🦍
Creatine is one of the few powdered supplements that have been thoroughly researched and proven to work. It helps improve strength, power, and muscle mass. Extensive studies have found that it is safe to consume long term without negative effects.
⚠️ Keep it simple and avoid other 'advanced' forms of creatine. It's not that they don't work, but that they just don't don't give you the same value for money. Stick to plain old creatine monohydrate.
Whey Protein 💪🏾
Protein is effective for muscle recovery and building muscle. The most important thing is the quantity and quality of protein consumed daily. 2g of protein x your bodyweight in kgs will give you a daily protein target to aim for. Depend on food first and supplement with protein to make up the difference where you fall short. How will you know? Download the Nutritionix app or Myfitnesspal app on your phone and start logging what you eat at each meal. You'll get a rough estimate of how much protein you're ingesting and if it falls short of the calculation outlined you may want to consider supplementing. If you don't fall short, then don't supplement. More isn't better.
I typically take 2-4 servings per day in addition to the food I already eat. I use protein supplements in specific phases and training blocks to cut weight and recover from sessions quickly during certain periods i.e. Summer Shredding. Outside of that it's just not that serious for me, it shouldn't be for you either.
Fat Burners 🔥
Great short-term options that mostly get the job done by acting as appetite suppressants and metabolism boosters. The stimulant versions of these products are a lot more effective than the non-stimulant versions. Be wary of excessive stimulants if you're taking both a fat burner and a pre-workout. One of them should be stimulant free if you want to combine the two because believe me when I tell you that overstimulation is not a sexy feeling.
⚠️ Pay attention to your mood on fat burners. If you don't feel good there's likely something in the product that doesn't agree with you. You might want to abandon ship and switch until you find what works for you.
Multivitamin 🌈 ✅
An insurance policy against any nutritional gaps which are more than likely for an active individual. They don't break the bank and benefits you get from them won't punch you in the face because they're are subtle but listen, they're very useful. Anyway, I'm a believer and Wellman's multivitamin (UK brand) is typically what I use. Available in local pharmacies.
Supplement World Zambia has everything you need in one store. Game stores is an alternative but it might be at a higher price point and so is Nutritech Zambia with more competitive pricing and product ranges. If you want to know more about ingredients in terms of what they do, whether they work and how much to take then read more on this on the examine.com website. It has excellent free resources to help you make an informed decision.
What makes a man a MAN? Testosterone. That bass in your voice, that hair on your chin and chest, that drive and motivation, that macho-man aggression, and those few hints of muscularity on your body are driven by this hormone. Testosterone is impacted by age, nutrition and lifestyle. You can't do anything about Father time but you can certainly make adjustments to your nutrition, lifestyle and training. I want to share what I’ve done to record higher testosterone levels in my 30s than I did in my 20s 🤯 insane but true. Listen up.
Sleep 😴 for a minimum of 8 hours every night. Testosterone is produced in your sleep and it’s output is displayed in your morning glory. More and better quality sleep aids it’s production and ensures more glorious days ahead 🦁 . You're not Elon Musk or Steve Jobs and there's really nothing you're doing when you're up late so prioritize sleeping more.
If you smoke, stop. Shisha, cigarettes 🚬 and weed - lekefyo. Little Jimmy won’t stand up? Blame it on the smokes 💨 cutting off circulation . If you drink 🍺 , do so in moderation (x2 beers per day). Alcohol crashes test levels and elevates estrogen. That big belly? Blame it on the alcohol providing you with excess calories.
Reduce your stress levels 😔. Stop trying to be superman; you can't be a hero for everyone and save them from their problems. Stress causes an elevation in the stress hormone cortisol and sustained or frequent elevations in cortisol subsequently reduce testosterone.
Keep doing whatever it is that you're doing but pay particular attention to your fat intake. You must look to increase this. When it comes to testosterone, fat is your friend. Look into incorporating things such as a fatty fish 🐠 , nuts 🥜 and nut butters, full fat dairy milk 🥛 or cheese 🧀 (choose ONE), avocado 🥑 , whole eggs 🍳 , chia seeds, olives 🫒 and olive oil (when cooking or alternatively you can consider throwing a tablespoon of it into your smoothie - you won't taste a thing!). Personally avocado is my go to, as well as placing the seed options in my smoothies and having nuts as snacks.
Avoid estrogen containing products, mainly soy and soy related products such tofu and soy milk. Growing breasts as a man? That's a sign of excess estrogen. Estrogen goes up and testosterone goes down.
Limit your overall sugar intake. Watch the sodas and consider drinking sugar free options instead to avoid increased fat storage from excess energy intake. Plain old water is the best.
It's simple really, lift heavy things up and put them back down. Repeat this action 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes and you're all set. Strength training takes priority over cardiovascular training. Vo tamanga tamanga (running 🏃🏿♂️) won't help your testosterone unless you're overweight. If you're overweight consider incorporating both strength training and cardiovascular activity for accelerated results in the weight loss department. High Intensity interval training is a great option for those short on time.
Supplements to consider:
⚠️ Low testosterone is associated with:
⭐️ Supplementary reading:
Ba Jabba! Supplements vs Steroids
Still buzzing from the African King release I was informed by fellow gym mates that they now knew my secret! That I’m not natural! Ni jabba💉 because I use supplements 😧 🤣. I feel compelled to clear the air and draw a line between supplements and steroids.
Dietary supplements are ingredients added to a nutrition protocol to enhance or complete it. These are typically vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs.
You should consider supplements if you have a deficiency i.e. if you’re vegan, or if it’s more convenient for you to reach your macronutrient goals this way i.e. whey protein for daily protein targets, or you simply want a little help to get you to your goals faster i.e. fat burners and appetite suppressants.
These are the synthetic form of the male dominant hormone testosterone. Testosterone is present in both men and women but in varying amounts. There’s more in men. It’s what makes you a man. Ka ndevu 🧔♂️, aggression, motivation and drive, sexual desire and the ability to pack on muscle.
Signs of possible steroid use
Supplements are not miracle ingredients but they do offer a small boost to help you get to your goals faster if your budget allows. Want to feel like more of a man without jabbing? Consider creatine monohydrate, pre-workout and a credible test booster. Outside of that, the secret is hard work and consistency. Chapwa. Steroids will take you to another level but all that comes with side effects and adverse health issues. The decline is just as dramatic as the rise.
After wasting a lot of time and money on stuff I’d see advertised in the magazines and on TV I want to speak my truth. I, like many other people in their youth, desperately wanted to believe in super pills and magic powders. In my quest to become like the fitness models and athletes I admire, I’ve swallowed many pills and mixed many different powders in the hope of waking up with an Adonis body. When nothing changed I swallowed some more pills and really started to push the envelope with the stuff. Until I got fed up with unsatisfactory results and a gaping hole in my pocket, only then did I start to educate myself on proper nutrition and everything else that gets you to the next level physically and mentally.
I want to give you, my reader, a run down of what's worked for me and for what purpose. I've been every kind of athlete and person seeking enhancement as you will see below. I hope to limit your fruitless experiments and save you some coins.
For general health
For endurance athletes
Caffeine is a stimulant that can be used to enhance endurance and improve your tolerance to pain. Remember the challenge of a run after some time spent in motion? When kaja ka voice starts trying to discourage you? Caffeine can help you persevere and reduce your own rating of perceived exertion. This allows you to push harder for longer. Best taken 30 minutes before an activity.
Carnosyn Beta Alanine buffers lactic acid thereby enhancing muscular endurance and performance. Lactic acid build up is that burning sensation you feel when you're running hard. Beta Alanine delays this process and allows you to run harder for longer. Advice: Buy Beta-Alanine as the patented Carnosyn form. That's what's been proven to be effective. Plain old Beta Alanine simply rides the science train of it's superior counterpart. There's a difference, always remember that. Carnosyn Beta Alanine can be taken at any time of the day.
Zinc & Magnesium are two minerals of real significance to endurance athletes because you lose a lot of both through sweat. If you're an endurance athlete you better wise up and replenish these in order to sustain your running performance, otherwise cramps and discomfort will be your portion when you go out on runs. I take my zinc & magnesium right before bed.
For bodybuilders and strength athletes
Whey Protein is taken purely for convenience and to help ensure that I'm consuming a good amount of protein per day. Good means at least 6 separate servings of protein a day. I can't always eat chicken or fish so I substitute with Whey. Benefits include: increase fat burning potential due to higher thermic effect and increased recovery from resistance training due to protein's ability to repair muscle tissue.
Pre-workout is one of the most commonly used supplements for gym goers and for good reason. A good pre-workout will help you get super focused on your session, provide you with a small boost in strength and endurance while also improving your nitric oxide levels for a better 'pump' in the gym. Good pre-workouts typically contain caffeine (alertness), L-tyrosine (focus), L-Citrulline (pump) and Beta Alanine (endurance) among a few other things. Always read the ingredients label of any pre-workout and see if it has what you require as not all pre-workouts are created equal. Don't just swallow pills and powders that contain ingredients you don't properly understand because the packaging is fancy.
For mortals just trying to lose weight
Green tea extract is a plant extract commonly consumed for fat burning properties, heart health boosting capacity and ability to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. It's most effective when taken with or just after meals.
Konjac fiber is fiber you take roughly 30 minutes before meal with at at least 500ml of water to help fill your stomach and prevent you from overeating at meal time. Once consumed it goes on to expand in your stomach. Nkani ya njala reduce.
For those looking for an energy boost
Multivitamins are of particular importance to individuals that tend to suffer with low energy because it might be that you're low on a particular vitamin or mineral and your body isn't able to operate optimally. For many that have experienced it, what does your pharmacist often suggest? Usually a B-complex vitamin. For women, probably an iron supplement. In my opinion it's best to cover all your bases and simply invest in a good multivitamin to prevent deficiencies across the board.
For think tanks
Alpha GPC is a compound proven to increase brain metabolism and directly improve focus and memory in individuals that supplement with it.
Panax Ginseng is a plant extract with exciting cognitive boosting properties on offer. You can expect more mental agility and better memory when supplemented.
Rhodiola Rosea is a herb and 'neurological anti-fatigue' supplement that combats stress and anxiety and boosts mood. All this directly impacts and improves cognitive function across the board from memory to mental sharpness.
My interest in nooptropics was sparked after watching the movie Limitless and I've dabbled in them ever since. While the ingredients above didn't provide me with the extreme mental advancement witnessed in the movie, I did however experience a lift in mental clarity and reduced brain fog. I was definitely sharper and could process information faster.
For men that want to feel like more of an Alpha Male
My final piece of advice on supplements - Don’t let the marketing get to you. Supplements are a small part of everything. By my estimation you should only expect a 5-10% in performance when you take them. For some, that may be all they need to get to the next level and realize their absolute potential. For most, optimized nutrition, proper training and adequate sleep will do more for you than any legal over-the-counter pill or powder ever will.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of the guidelines herein is at the sole choice and risk of the reader
The Belly Must Go!
We're a few months from Summer and you know what? I want a beach body by the summer even though I don't have a beach to go to! It starts now. First order of business is The Belly Must Go! Getting in shape takes time; it's a process. What makes people fail in their body transformation pursuits is unrealistic expectations, overzealous body goals paired with extreme diet and training practices. While a radical diet and training protocol may give you quick results in the short term, it's not a healthy approach nor is it sustainable long term. You're not meant to drop weight rapidly and if you mismanage the situation you'll end up with dramatic consequences that include, but are not limited to issues of stretch marks, loose skin, compromised energy levels, foul moods, and low libido. The belly must go, but it must do so gradually.
The concept of weight loss is simple, but it’s not easy. Let me increase volume here - THE CONCEPT OF WEIGHT LOSS IS SIMPLE, BUT IT'S NOT EASY. I have adopted a simple fat loss strategy that’s relatively easy to understand and implement without any complicated training and nutrition protocol. I'm going to share exactly what I plan to do to get lean in the quickest (and healthy) way I know and it's based on 3 basic principles which I will discuss in detail:
Smaller, frequent meals: I'll look to eat every 3 hours or so to keep the hunger at bay because waiting too long between meals is a setup for overeating later. The biggest enemy of progress when it comes to weight loss and sticking to a ‘diet’ is adherence. People fail because the hunger becomes overwhelming. Control your hunger and you can control your nutrition. Additionally, the frequent meals consumed should have a specific element of portion control and include a serving of protein at every sitting. Portion control playbook will for a start be as follows: all protein should equal your palm in size, all carbohydrates must equal a cupped handful, and vegetables your fist. Your hand should always guide you. Important - every meal eaten should have some protein.
High protein intake: High protein intake means 5-6 separate servings of protein per day. I will use and depend on protein to help increase satiety (nkani ya njala reduces), increase caloric expenditure through a higher thermic effect (meaning more calories burnt from digestion), minimize muscle loss from the reduced food intake and increased training while also improving muscle recovery (which means I can train more and more intensely).
Low to moderate carbohydrates: I will carefully manage my carbohydrate intake and carefully select my carbohydrate options. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy but if you eat carbohydrates (matebeto nshima) in excess and don’t use it (exercise/movement) then it gets stored as glycogen and body fat. My advice? Eat carbohydrates in accordance with what you will be doing and seek out brown carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown pasta, brown bread etc. Siting all day and later feeling entitled to matebeto nshima is a belly expansion activity. I will include fiber based carbohydrates such as muesli, Weetabix and plain old oats to help move things along and keep my gut healthy.
Low fat intake and careful consideration of fat options: Fat has the highest energy value of all the macro nutrients so I'll try to minimize its consumption and also carefully select my fat options. Fat options to be considered will be avocados, peanut butter, olive oil, fish, various nuts and seeds. I will also be avoiding fried food where I can, and where it's not practical I'll use olive oil to prepare my meals.
Smart hydration: I will be increasing water intake to optimize hydration and suppress appetite. I'll be consuming 40 mls of fluid per kilogram of body-weight. This will include drinking 5-6 cups of green tea daily to increase fat burning capacity. You should forget about other weight loss teas, stick to green tea and keep it simple.
I will strength train 4 times per week and base each workout on compound movements. I will squat, bench press, dead lift and shoulder press on each of the days and support the training with supplementary isolation movements. Here's my training template and note that it takes me no more than 60 minutes (usually 30-45 mins) per session to get it done:
NB: Two sets per exercise with 90 seconds rest between sets for all movements.
Always remember that when you're training, you're doing it to look good not to look strong. Getting lean is all about the cosmetics so train sensibly and stop flexing for strangers in the gym before you hurt yourself.
Low intensity cardio🚶
Easy run/walk 5-10 kilometers (or 10, 000 steps) 4 times per week. It's a very comfortable, stress-free activity that focuses on keeping the body in motion for anywhere between 20 - 40 minutes. The mornings are always best for this.
Other useful tips:
The Belly Must Go Sample Meal Plan:
Meal 1 – 3 boiled egg whites🥚, 1 slice of wholegrain bread🍞 with peanut butter
Meal 2 – Whey Protein shake with 200ml of skim milk🥛, 2 servings of fruit (i.e. apple + banana 🍎🍌)
Meal 3 – Rice, Beans, 2 servings of green leafy vegetables🥬 (i.e. broccoli, spinach), chicken breast
Meal 4 – Whey Protein shake with 200ml of skim milk🥛, 2 handfuls of nuts🥜
Meal 5 – Muesli with Greek yoghurt
Meal 6 – Grilled Hake with 2 servings of vegetables🥬
I hope to encourage others to embark on this journey with me. Start with your next meal. Make the right decision. Stay consistent with the basics and over time those small conscious decisions made on what you put in your mouth and how often you move your body will amount to big results.
Acknowledgement: Headline was inspired by 'KB'!
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer & Nutritionist
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