Both seasoned athletes and gym neophytes know that the cocktail of choice when working out is a protein shake. Lots of these powders are designed to serve different purposes, which means there are so many to choose from it can make your head swim, Phelps style. If you feel overwhelmed when shopping for a protein supplement, don’t fear, there are answers to all of your questions. Nutrition School is in session and your first class, Protein 101 will teach you all you need to know.
Why should you choose protein powder? Whether you are a gym rat or a couch potato you need protein. Protein is composed of amino acids, which are the fundamental building blocks of muscle proteins and enzymes, making it a crucial part of a daily diet. According to Men’s Health, protein also prevents blood sugar spikes and boosts the hormones that tell your body you’re full and should put the fork down. We believe that the biochemical mechanism responsible for preventing sugar spikes is gluconeogenesis. Basically, when a protein is broken down to amino acids, these amino acids can be used to make proteins such as muscle proteins or biochemically changed to sugars. This transformation is called gluconeogenesis. What is interesting is that gluconeogenesis is a way to slowly adding sugar to your energy system without spiking sugar or insulin.
Protein powder can be a great way to up the health quotient to your favorite recipes. Bodybuilding states that whey protein is a good addition to your menu if you are looking to build muscle and lose fat. When you combine whey with a health regimen like a workout routine, this protein supplement can help pump you up with lean muscle and increase your strength, as well as help you maintain the hard body you already have. A study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism stated that 35 grams of protein per meal is a target amount for a healthy diet.
You should always read the Supplement Facts information on labels When choosing a protein powder, checking out the fine print is a smart idea. Finding a high-quality protein will not only taste better but offer you more benefits and a healthier shake. When weighing which kind to buy, whey comes out on top as far as nutritional value. The ‘biological value’, or the proportion of absorbed protein you get from your food, is generally higher with whey products. The other types of protein powders: casein, egg white, soy, hemp, and others are lower biological value. Furthermore, in the case of soy protein, there is the chance that you are getting protein derived from a GMO source. Be on the lookout for powders with a limited amount of added sugar and carbohydrates as well as little in the way of additives. Beware of the blends, suggests Oxygen magazine, powders that have “concentrates” or “solids” which can be hard on the digestive system and might cause problems like bloating or gas.
If you are using shakes to shed pounds, according to the Cleveland Clinic, choosing a powder with no added sugars or sweeteners is key.
When is the best time to throw back a protein packed shake? Some people use their shakes as a meal replacement, having one at the beginning of the day or as their lunch when they don’t have time for a mid-day meal. That said, protein powders shouldn’t replace real food, as a rule. Many bodybuilders and fitness fanatics like to imbibe before or after a workout. Some sip during their sweat session too. According to a study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, there is a small window of time when a shake is optimal for your body. About thirty minutes after a gym session, these amino acids will have the most impact on your muscles, bringing you a bit of extra strength and muscle gain. It also helps to repair muscles and recover after exercise. For weight management, the Cleveland Clinic suggests a steady supply of protein at meals to keep you constantly satiated.
In the SFH supplement world, some powders are created to take before a workout. Fuel is a great option if you aren’t going home after the gym or you need something to get your get-up-and-go going before your exercise routine. FUEL contains coconut milk, which is a natural source of coconut fat. This is considered an energy fat burns quickly, providing a burst of energy rather than being stored as fat. FUEL is a fantastic way to get your energy revved without having a heavy meal sit in the pit of your stomach and weigh you down.
How can you mainline your protein powder in the most delicious way? Shakes are the most popular way of getting your powder boost. There are many recipes, from simply adding water or milk and shaking, to combining a variety of fruits, vegetables, nut butters, and ice and blending into a creamy, frothy frappe. Depending on your favorite foods, you can mimic the taste with different shake recipes. If you’re a fan of chocolate covered strawberries, try making a protein smoothie with chocolate protein powder and blended strawberries. If you like pina coladas, you can go for a run in the rain with your smoothie made from coconut and pineapple blended with vanilla whey protein powder.
There are other ways to get your amino acids in powder form. You can use protein powder like flour and make protein-rich pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, muffins and more, making those treats and sweets a little more nutritious. Maybe add some powder to your coffee for a protein-infused latte. Make a batch of quick overnight oats with added protein powder for a complete meal, which will hold you over until lunchtime. Using unflavored powder can also enhance your cooking. Adding a scoop to your appetizers, like hummus or guac, could mean you will fill up faster and dip fewer chips. Or perhaps sprinkle the powder in a soup or sauce you are making for extra oomph. The powder will be undetectable to the taste buds, but the addition of protein in your diet will be duly noted by the rest of your body.
When you are striving to live a healthy lifestyle, there are many factors that must be taken into consideration. Many people know about getting enough exercise and drinking enough water each day, but they may still not be feeling at the top of their game, especially after eating a meal that contains wheat, barley, or rye. If this is the case, it’s possible that you have a gluten allergy or intolerance. We’ve put together some common signs of gluten allergy or intolerance, however, please consult a doctor if you feel that you have an allergy or intolerance to food or ingredients.
Some common signs of a gluten allergy or intolerance include:
Bloating, as well as other gastrointestinal issues. If you’re finding that you need to be near a bathroom and are suffering from diarrhea or constipation frequently after eating a meal, you may consider the fact that it has to do with what you ate. If it was something containing gluten, that could be a good start to see if eliminating it helps your stomach.
Abdominal pain or cramping. This is exceedingly common after eating gluten, and while it can have many explanations, if it occurs frequently after eating certain meals, it could be a gluten sensitivity.
Joint and muscle pain. It may seem like this intolerance would only affect your stomach, but the effects are farther reaching than that, and your joints may become painful or inflamed from ingesting gluten.
Skin conditions. Anything from psoriasis to alopecia could be caused by gluten sensitivity or intolerance. You may also find that you develop rashes after eating, which goes hand in hand with an allergy to food.
While there are many signs of a gluten allergy or intolerance, if you are having serious health issues, please consult your doctor to eliminate anything more serious. There are many gluten-free options on the market today, which makes this diagnosis an easy one to live with. With a few simple diet adjustments, you’ll be feeling better in no time!
“Why is getting healthy so hard? You already know the answer – your feelings. If you feel deprived of bread, you won’t stick to your gluten-free diet. The second you consider how you feel about eating salad for the next 113 days, you’ll convince yourself not to do it. The moment you scan today’s CrossFit workout and consider how you feel about doing three sets of 45 burpees with a bunch of people in a parking lot – you won’t feel like walking out the door and going. Will sticking to a diet make you happy? Absolutely. Will seeing your friends at CrossFit and working out make you happy? You better believe it will.” – Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule
When I first read this quote in Mel Robbins’ book, The 5 Second Rule, all I could think was “wow, how absolutely true is that?” We seriously do not recognize how much our thoughts and feelings impact every single decision that we make every single day, no matter how big or small.
We rarely follow our instincts and what we feel is right. Why? Because we spend too much time making our decisions and then fear doubt, and uncertainty begins to creep in and we are left to settle and unwilling to face change.
This right here is the primary reason why so many of us struggle with getting healthy and changing our diets: we are afraid of the challenge. We are afraid of feeling uncomfortable, of getting out of breath, of entering into uncharted territory. We let our feelings dominate every aspect of our everyday life, we cannot let them dominate our health, at least not negatively.
Getting healthy can be scary because we FEEL scared of the new things we are about to face, not necessarily because getting healthy is actually scary. In fact, it’s actually the best possible thing you can do for yourself, your life, and your relationships with others!
In order to conquer these fears and move toward the health, wellness, and lifestyle that we want, we have to learn how to separate what we need and want to do from what we feel about doing it.
What do I mean by this? Let’s take a look at my daily struggle with waking up and getting myself out of bed. When my alarm goes off, my brain formulates two very different questions, one being “should I get out of bed?” and the other being “do I feel like getting out of bed?” We don’t realize at the time, but these two questions mean two totally different things.
The answer to “should I get out of bed?” is always yes. I set my alarm to give me enough time to start my day without rushing and get to my appointments on time or to work when I planned. The answer to “do I feel like getting out of bed?” is almost always a resounding no. I’m still tired, my bed in comfy, I just don’t want to start the day yet.
The key here? One question and answer is productive and makes me a better person, the other holds me back and brings me down. But regardless of knowing these things, I usually stay in bed and start my day off the wrong way because I am making my decision based off of how I am feeling, not off of what is best for me.
To begin living our lives the way we want and to begin seeing the positive changes we want to see, we must enter change, every day decisions, and our health with a different perspective. We must work to remove our feelings as often as possible and go by what is right for us both in the present moment and for the long term.
Should I start going to the gym?
Do I feel like starting at a gym?
The answers to these questions are life changing and can either propel you forward into your best life or send you falling backward. Try putting your feelings aside and look at the answers rationally. What is best for you.
We can help you on that journey
Becoming healthy, getting into shape, and building strength are delicately woven together and serve as a journey. No amount of progress or change will be visible overnight; results take time and most importantly only come with dedication, determination, motivation, and knowledge.
It’s difficult to achieve the results you desire if you are not properly educated on what is needed to get there. All too often people will plateau their results or fall off completely simply because they are not aware of the bad habits that are preventing them from moving forward.
What habits will halt your progress and keep you from feeling and looking your best?
Inconsistent in the number of days you work out per week
While it’s important to take rest days so that our bodies can recover and refuel, taking too many can actually derail our progress. All too often, people take a day off from exercise whenever they feel sore, thinking that’s what their bodies need. However, it’s in those moments that what your body really needs is to keep moving! Aim to commit yourself to 3-5 consistent training days per week.
Never changing your routine
Routine is the enemy when it comes to seeing progress and results. When we continuously engage in the same exercises, the same number of sets, and the same number of reps, our bodies become used to the workouts and therefore begin to put in less effort. When our bodies put in less effort, our muscles don’t put in the work needed to progress and build strength.
This also applies to those who “pick” which workouts to show up to. Not only do you lose out on improving in other areas by doing this, but you are also putting your body at risk. How? Variance provides balance. If you always skip a squat day but never miss a deadlift or pulling day, your backside becomes dominant and you create a recipe for body imbalances.
Not eating enough
Healthy food is your friend! Eating less isn’t going to help you lose weight, it will cause you to lose muscle and might even cause you to gain or store weight you don’t want to. Our bodies need food to refuel, especially before and after working out. Without eating enough, our bodies begin to feed off our muscle tissue and lead to us feeling sluggish and fatigued. Eating more of the right foods will not lead to weight gain, but will lead to the body you want and better recovery from workouts.
Focusing solely on cardiovascular exercises
While cardiovascular exercises are very important and necessary, focusing the majority of your time on cardio isn’t going to get you the results or body you want. You will actually begin to lose muscle tissue becomes weaker. Strength training, however, is extremely effective when it comes to burning fat and building muscle mass.
Performing functional exercises and compound exercises like the squat, press and deadlift deliver the most profound results. Now combining your cardio and weightlifting? That’s the recipe for fitness and improving your capability to do more work in less time!
Working out to the point of exhaustion every time
Of course, it’s good to push ourselves to the extreme every once in a while, but doing so every single time you train is a recipe for failure. Your body will become too exhausted, drain your central nervous system, and won’t have the means to recuperate, leading to an increased risk of injury.
Mixing up your training stimulus is an extremely important piece of the puzzle. At Crossfit Daytona, we do this every day. Some days we go short and fast, some days we go long and sustained, some days we mix in intervals, some days we pace, and some days we go at max effort. Some days we will just lift, some days we will lift after a workout, and others we will lift within a workout.
It’s not random, it’s deliberate. Life is unpredictable and will demand different things of you (variance). To achieve the best results for body and performance think about it like this: 20% of time should be spent practicing, 70% of time should be spent “training,” and 10% should be what we call “compete” or go for it.
Practice: Very low heart rate and not on the clock. Loads are extremely light and there is a deliberate focus on improving, whether that be in positions or technique. No stress.
Training: Implementing the aspects of “practice” typically under a duress setting. (You’ve practiced your kettlebell swing a dozen times, now let’s incorporate them within a workout while still focusing on the quality of movement, but moving with a purpose as well).
3 rounds for time:
400m run (or row)
25 air squats
25 kettlebell swings
Spend most of your time here. Not only does training deliver the highest value for results, but combined with a healthy diet, it gets you the body that you want too!
Compete: Go as fast as you can and push up towards your highest output possible.
Those who don’t train CrossFit typically will hear the buzz words “high intensity” and immediately think we “compete” every day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s debunk this myth here:
- No matter how in shape you are before CrossFit, it is more than likely that even a practice session will whoop your butt. Yeah, it’s that good.
- New athletes to the program will spend the first 90 days focusing on consistency (showing up 3-5x a week) and mechanics (learning the movements and moving well).
Simply put, new athletes are blending practice and training within their first 90 day period.
- High intensity is relative. Each athlete works at their own intensity. 68-year-old Fred’s intensity is different than 32-year-old Abby’s to 20-year-old Elena’s.
We respect all of that. Intensity isn’t a one size fits all for everyone and understanding intensity is a major key to success and moving the needle in the right direction.
DIETING VS MAKING A LIFESTYLE CHANGE
No two people lose weight the same way, there are an endless amount of factors that come into play, but there is one single method that can, will and does work for everyone: making a lifestyle change.
When individuals feel the desire to look better, feel better, and lose weight, they often turn to go on a “diet” to make those changes happen.
The thing with diets? They’re temporary and teach us nothing about the relationship we actually need to have with food. More simply, they’re unrealistic and set us up for failure.
Get this – according to the NY Times, there was a grapefruit diet in the 1930s where people ate half of a grapefruit at every meal out of the belief that the fruit contained fat-burning enzymes. Basically, people paid no mind to the other foods on their plate. All that mattered was that they were eating the grapefruit and that meant they would start losing weight.
Another historical dieting gem? The cabbage-soup diet of the 1950s. On this plan, people ate cabbage soup every day for a week alongside low-calorie meals in order to induce passing gas and thus lose weight. Silly? Absolutely. Realistic? Not one bit.
Although these diet examples are quite outrageous, they’re rooted in the same mentality as all other diet fads circulating the globe today. There is no focus on actual nutritional knowledge and science, but instead a focus on “ideas” that society claims to work, but in actuality are just simply used as money makers.
A diet can characteristically be defined as the following:
- Weight is generally lost quickly in a set period of time
- Foods are categorized as “good” or “bad”
- Eating habits are often based on environmental cues
- Calorie consumption is greatly restricted
- Progress is dependent on the number on the scale
- Temporary plan with an end date
The weight loss and dieting industry are worth over 66 BILLION dollars, yet more than two-thirds of Americans are still overweight or obese.
Why? Diets make you experience feelings of weakness, extreme hunger, exhaustion, mental stress, and food deprivation and do nothing to teach you about balance, moderation, and nutritional value. In turn, people cave from their diets and turn back to their old, unhealthy habits. If that isn’t proof that something is seriously wrong with our nutritional health culture, then we’re not sure what is.
The solution to the issue is pretty clear cut but it takes effort, commitment, PATIENCE, the drive to improve, and most importantly, knowledge! We must work to change our perspective to think about long-term success over short-term instant gratification. We have to make the decision to change our lifestyle rather than just search for a temporary fix. We need to place our focus on learning about various foods, nutritional value, balance, moderation, and feeling good!
A lifestyle change can characteristically be defined as the following:
- Eating healthy, nutritious, whole foods to nourish your body
- Practicing moderation, not restriction
- Exercising on a regular and consistent basis
- Relying on your body to tell you what you need
- Losing weight at a safe and healthy pace (1-2 pounds per week)
- Measuring progress beyond the number on the scale
When you begin to shift your focus to change your lifestyle, you are choosing to be kinder to both your body and your mind. Is there anything better than that? No way! And as mentioned earlier, this is the best way to guarantee losing weight, gaining strength, and feeling good, AND it can work for everyone! No diet pills and no cabinet full of supplements needed.
Great ways to begin changing your lifestyle:
- Choose water over sugary beverages
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times
- Eat breakfast
- Pack healthy snacks when on the go
- Eat more vegetables
- Watch portion size
- Meal prep for the week ahead
- Get active in some way every day
- Exercise at least three times a week
- Focus on how you feel, not the scale
The BEST way to kick off your lifestyle change? Take action today.
Start with just one thing you’d like to see change and use that as your primary focus and fuel to begin and keep going. Set small goals for yourself with positive rewards in place for when those goals are met. Get a friend involved in making the change too, that way you both can work to hold each other accountable. If looking into the foreseeable future is too overwhelming for you, turn it into a 30-day challenge!
Take change one day, one month, and eventually one year at a time and you’ll be amazed by the results. You want to look better, feel better, live healthier and live happier? Don’t try some fad diet, change your lifestyle.
As always we are here to help. Here is a link to set up a No Snack Intro