In preparation for the Open we caught up with the owner of PH Nutrition, Liam Holmes, to ask his top tips on supplementing your training.

Liam takes us through the key supplements that can benefit performance and recovery and when/if you should be taking it.






Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body that has numerous benefits in relation to health and performance. 

We used to think of Creatine only being used by bodybuilders but the research on this is now very robust in terms of helping most people that train regularly

You can get Creatine from food such as meat, fish and some dairy. However the amounts required for a performance enhancement effect are challenging to get from food alone. Therefore supplementation is crucial to see the benefits stated in the research.

Some of the positives outcomes achieved by taking Creatine are:

  • Improved power output
  • Increased muscle growth in conjunction with strength training
  • Prevention in the decrement of muscle power during intense training
  • Increased glycogen replenishment
  • Improved sprint speed and the ability to sprint repeatedly
  • Improved cognitive function and skill execution when sleep deprived


If you are trying to improve strength and your diet is consistent, YES

If you are trying to lose weight, your diet is consistent and you are training regularly, YES

If you are plant based, YES

If you are training for an event, YES

If you aren't any of those then no need. But here is some more info and feel free to comment with any questions!


There are naturally some fears of gaining weight and being too bulky. There may be a jump in weight but this is down to increase water retention and potentially increased muscle glycogen storage. In my experience the gain in weight with a lower dose is minimal. 

Getting bulky can only happen if you are eating in a very large surplus and doing specific hypertrophy training.

No adverse effects have been shown with kidney function at any loading dose done for 5-7 days or when taken at 5-8g for extended periods of time. 


The optimal loading dose to facilitate the ergogenic effects of creatine is either a short term dose of 20g per day for 5-7 days or a maintenance dose of 5-8g per day. 

For almost everyone a maintenance dose is more than adequate. There is no need to load unless you have a competition or event coming up and you haven't previously supplemented.


The timing of Creatine doesn't matter. It is the saturation of your muscles that we are looking for and this can be achieved by supplementing any time of the day.



This is a non-essential amino acid that together with histidine, produces Carnosine. Carnosine is then stored in your skeletal muscles. Carnosine reduces lactic acid accumulation in your muscles during exercise, which leads to improved athletic performance.

It doesn't directly improve strength, but helps you to train harder, which means a bigger stimulus, resulting in better gains!

Some research has shown a synergistic effect with creatine also.

This is how Carnosine acts during exercise:

  • Glucose is broken down: Glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose, which is the main source of fuel during high-intensity exercise. • Lactate is produced: As you exercise, your muscles break glucose down into lactic acid. This is converted into lactate, which produces hydrogen ions (H+). • Muscles become more acidic: The hydrogen ions reduce the pH level in your muscles, making them more acidic. • Fatigue sets in: Muscle acidity blocks glucose breakdown and reduces your muscles' ability to contract. This causes fatigue. • Carnosine buffer: Carnosine serves as a buffer against the acid, reducing the acidity in muscles during high-intensity exercise. • Since beta-alanine supplements increase carnosine levels, they help your muscles reduce their acid levels during exercise. This lessens overall fatigue.

You may experience some tingling when taking this but it is harmless.

People also take this pre workout, but research shows that timing doesn’t matter, it is about saturation of your skeletal muscles that is the key.

So taking over a 3-4 week period is suggested and then you can have a wash out period of 3 weeks where your muscle stores will still be elevated.



There appears to be a reliable and significant increase in power output in both trained and sedentary persons with doses of caffeine exceeding 5mg/kg, assuming the subject is not caffeine tolerant. Tolerance, or lower doses of caffeine, are not as effective.

There also appears to be benefit in anaerobic cardiovascular exercise, perhaps due to combination antifatigue effects and increasing power output.

Bottom line - caffeine works. If you take lots then the effect may be diminished a little but there is still evidence that it helps.

VERDICT? Take it - as coffee is lovely.



Nitric oxide may allow energy processes to occur more efficiently in the body and thus save ATP so more is available to prolong or perhaps enhance exercise. In general, foods or substances which increase vasodilation should also increase blood flow, which means more nutrient delivery and more waste product clearance.


Here are a few benefits that have been found within the research -

  • Improving high-intensity exercise tolerance  • Good potential for improving acute strength training • Improve muscle efficiency by reducing the oxygen cost of exercise, meaning you can perform for longer with less fatigue.  • Increasing time to exhaustion  • Reducing the oxygen cost of exercise  • Improving muscular endurance

Our advice is to eat some nitrate rich foods regularly but supplement with beet it shots before 1-2 sessions per week. This should be taken around 90 minutes - 2 hours prior to the session.


WANT TO KNOW MORE? Checkout the PH NUTRITION instagram for all things fuelling and recovery 


Sources and studies

Viner RI, Williams TD, Schöneich C. Nitric oxide-dependent modification of the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase: localization of cysteine target sites. Free Radic Biol Med. (2000)

Merry TL, Lynch GS, McConell GK. Downstream mechanisms of nitric oxide-mediated skeletal muscle glucose uptake during contraction. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. (2010)

Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation and exercise performance. Sports Med. (2014)

Andrew M Jones, et al. Dietary Nitrate and Physical Performance. Annu Rev Nutr. (2018)

Kate A Wickham, Lawrence L Spriet. No longer beeting around the bush: a review of potential sex differences with dietary nitrate supplementation 1. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. (2019)

Helton O Campos, et al. Nitrate supplementation improves physical performance specifically in non-athletes during prolonged open-ended tests: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr. (2018)**