You have the power to sculpt your body with the foods you eat, as well as the type of exercises you do. Before I address how to sculpt your body with how you eat, let’s talk about how you train.
Sculpt Muscle by How You Train
“The more muscle your workout requires, the more muscle you will gain…”
While protein is very important for sculpting a fit body, supplementing without the proper training will not get you the results you want. How you train greatly determines what you store for energy and what you use for energy. With intense movements, your body will likely store more energy as muscle. Your body is smart. The more muscle your workout requires, the more muscle you will gain, or keep. - And don’t worry ladies, you won’t be a beef-cake bodybuilder, you will just look super fit. It takes a LOT of work to look like a man!
On the contrary, if you are a marathon runner, you are more prone to burn both muscle and fat as energy, and store fat, because muscle is not needed as much for low to moderate intensity workouts. While running a marathon is quite grueling, it doesn’t require a lot of explosive power, it requires endurance. Of matter of fact, a runner’s body considers muscle as unnecessary added weight. However, fat is a good source of energy for long runs, so that is why your body is prone to storing fat. If a runner wants to maintain muscle, they need to pump up their muscles in the gym (and pump up protein) in addition to their running program to encourage their body to keep muscle.
Sculpt Muscle by How You Eat
Now that you understand the importance of how you train, let’s dive into your eating. As you’ve heard before, “you are what you eat”. Fat and carbs makes fat bodies. Protein make fit muscular bodies. That is why it is so important to get enough protein if you want to maintain, or add, more muscle mass. Your body is always burning calories from a combination of fats, carbs and protein. If you eat carbs and fats, but are low on protein, your body doesn’t just stop burning protein. It still burns protein, but it burns stored protein (muscle). The same goes for fat stores. If you are short on fat or carbs, your body will burn stored fat to turn it into the fuel it’s missing.
If you are like me, and don’t want your body to burn muscle, then you want to keep a steady stream of protein in your diet so your body can feed off that – and not feed off your precious hard-earned muscle. If you want to GAIN muscle, then you need to give your body more protein than it needs so it stores more protein (muscle). *Use the protein calculator, below, to learn how much protein you should get a day.
Just the same way our body stores fat and carbs as body fat when you eat too much of it, your body can store excess protein as well. However, you still have to watch overall calories if you don’t want to gain weight, because too many calories is still too many calories – and it can cause you to gain weight, whether it’s coming from muscle or fat. Understand, if you eat more calories than you burn, you WILL gain weight – whether it’s muscle weight or fat weight.
So, the trick to a lean muscular physique is to eat a low-calorie, low-fat, moderate-carb, high-protein diet. This will encourage your body to burn fat stores to reduce body fat, while storing (or maintaining) protein to sculpt muscle.
What’s Your Number?
Click HERE to use GNC’s Protein Calculator to help you decide how much protein should be in your diet.
As a gym owner I get a lot of questions, but there are 5 questions that stand out because they are the most common question every member has at one point or another. Since each of these questions are very good questions, everyone would benefit from knowing the answer.
So here it goes! Here’s my Top 5 best questions from fitness newbies!
1. What do I eat before a workout?
Steve addresses this in great detail in yesterday’s blog, What to Eat Before a Workout: Common Sense Tips. What you eat depends on what you are doing, which Steve explains well. Generally speaking though, a good balance of carbs, fat and protein will power most people through a moderate to vigorous strength workout. However, our body requires little to no food before cardio (I explain more in the next question). Also, it’s helpful to have an idea of how many calories you burn (energy required) during your strength workout. Since I burn 250-300 calories during weight training alone (not including cardio), I limit my calories to 250-300 calories prior to weight training so I give my body no more than it needs to make it through the workout. Here are some foods I like to eat before workouts:
- Chobani Greek yogurt with berries and 1 TBS of granola (what I eat 90% of the time).
- Egg sandwich (I like the 300-calorie Einstein Bagel Thin Eggwhite Sandwiches)
- Scrambled egg beaters with a little fat (olive oil or cheese) and veggies.
- Oatmeal with nuts and butter.
- 1/2 a whole grain bagel with peanut butter and honey
- Jimmy Dean D’Lights Turkey Sausage Bowl (for those rushed mornings)
- Total Lean Breakfast Bar (for eating on the run – whole foods are always best pre-workout)
Late Afternoon (before you hit the gym after work):
- The rest of my lunch (split up your lunch and eat half at lunch and half an hour before you leave work).
- Chobani Greek Yogurt Cup
- Designer Whey Protein Bar (or half a full protein bar, which are normally too high in calories)
- 300-calorie Einstein bagel thin sandwiches
- Banana and peanut butter (if I’m in a bind, I grab this from our smoothie bar for a quick calorie fix)
- Hand full of almonds and a green apple (or your favorite fruit)
2. What do I do first? Cardio or Weights?
To do any powerful workout, like weight training, plyometrics, sprinting, or other explosive movements that require instant strength, you need to eat prior to your workout to fuel you through it. However, your body doesn’t need food for cardio, like running, jogging, walking, elliptical, etc., and can use stored fat for energy (which is why we love to do it – BURN THAT FAT!). With that said, you should do weights before cardio if you are doing them at the same time. Eat a small meal, or healthy snack, 45 minutes or so before going to the gym. Hit weights first. By the time you finish your weight routine, you will likely be through all the calories so that, come cardio time, you will tap into fat stores for a good fat burning workout. If you do cardio first, your cardio will just burn off your food (instead of fat), and you won’t have the energy you need to lift at the ideal intensity. Get more suggestions and tips on ways to pump up your workout from my blog, 20 Gym Boo Boos.
3. Which is best, high reps or low reps?
Aside from power lifters, bodybuilders and athletes who are training specifically for a sport, most people can follow a pretty generic format and get great results. The fact is, high reps vs low reps are a bit relative. I’d recommend doing 12-15 reps for most beginners. These are high reps in comparison to bodybuilders, who may do only 8-12 reps, and powerlifters often do only 1-8 reps. I personally do 3 – 4 sets of 12-15 reps for upper body and 18-20 reps for lower body. However, doing the right number of repetitions is meaningless if you are not working out at the correct intensity. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) lays out how to determine the right intensity for you. For example, if all you can do is one rep using all your might to move that weight one time, you are working at 100%. So, in order to do more reps, you would need to reduce your weight until you can get the number of reps needed. Based on research, the following rep continuum has been established to help us know where our intensity should be.
60% relates to 16-20 reps
65% = 14-15 reps
70% = 12-13 reps
75% = 10-11 reps
80% = 8-9 reps
85% = 6-7 reps
90% = 4-5 reps
95% = 2-3 reps
100% = 1 rep
If you follow this intensity scale, 12-15 reps can feel a LOT different than just playing the guessing game. Unfortunately, many people are just going through the motions. And, while that can keep you healthy and active, it’s not going to give you the results you want.
Test yourself. If you are approaching 15 reps and you can do a few more, you likely need to increase your weight or decrease your rest time. The idea is to tear down the muscle so we can build it back up stronger. So, if you wait for your muscle to fully recover, you aren’t wearing it down like you should be. And, just because a weight is difficult, it doesn’t mean you can’t do more reps. In other words, your muscles can burn and you can be tired, but you still might be able to lift a few more reps.
If you are worried about bulking up, then it’s even more important to keep your rest time low and your reps on the higher side. Sadly, women use that as an excuse to lift too light. According to the rep continuum, you would have to reduce your weight a little to get more reps, but many women are reducing it a LOT – and working out at a much lower intensity than they are capable of. I go deeper into this topic in my blog, High Reps vs Low Reps.
4. How many days a week should I train?
This depends mostly on your schedule. You tell me – how many days CAN you train? Then you break it down from there. You want at least one day of rest after weight training. So, the fewer days you train, the more body parts I’d train each day. The more days you can train, the more I’d break up body parts so I am able to train every day without training the same body part 2 days in a row. For instance, if I only can train 3 times a week, I’d do 3 full body workouts every other day. Or, I’d do upper body one day, lower body the next and then a full-body that final day. But if I were to train 5 days a week, I’d break it up even more, where I did individual body parts every day. Ultimately, your training schedule depends on how much time you have to train, as well as what your goal is. Read How to Set an Effective Training Schedule for more tips.
5. What should I eat after a workout?
I think once you read Steve’s What to Eat Before a Workout blog, you’ll understand this even more. The short answer is protein, protein, protein! Basically, the focus needs to be on giving your body what it needs to start repairing the muscle that you just broke down in your workout. You can either have a protein shake immediately after your workout, or you can have a high-protein meal. If you are eating your meal at night, I recommend a low-carb, high-protein, moderate-fat meal like a white meat, green veggie and a healthy fat (like olive oil or avocado). Read Does Your Diet Need More Muscle? to learn more about how much protein you need and what to put in your shakes for best absorption.
Now you have the basics, it’s time to put it to the test! If you learned something new today, be sure to share this with your friends – because the more people who know, the faster they’ll get results! Knowledge really is quite powerful!
If you want to tone up, you need to put more muscle in your workouts – and in your kitchen. The problem is, most people don’t know how much protein they eat – or how much they need. Well, after you read today’s blog, you will not only know “your number”, but you’ll know how and when to take it too.
First, I want to hit some key pointers.
1. Budget your protein intake. Before you start gulping down protein, you want to make sure you realize you are also gulping down more calories. Many people who start a fitness program hoping to lose weight and tone up ADD protein to their diet, but forget to SUBTRACT calories from carbs and fat. Another words, they are increasing their protein AND calories. Then they wonder whey they GAINED weight trying to get healthy. If you need to lose weight or lean out, remember that adding protein to your diet is great, but you have to account for the extra calories – and protein shakes and bars can add up fast if you aren’t paying attention.
2. Know when to take it. Protein is not a good source of fuel. That’s why marathoners carb up, not protein up. Protein is best for repair. So, the 2 best times to take protein, besides getting it in whole foods throughout your day, is post workout and before you go to bed. Our body is most receptive to absorbing protein within 30-40 minutes of your workout, and it needs protein to help our body repair muscle while we sleep.
3. Know how to take it. If you are taking protein post workout, you want to pair it with simple sugars to help speed up absorption so you can use the protein in that 30-40 minute window. For instance, a protein shake with water and honey, or protein with orange juice would be a good post workout shake. Any other time, you want to slow digestion down so you can absorb as much nutrients as possible. The longer it’s in your stomach, the more protein you absorb, and the longer you’ll stay full. In this case, adding milk or peanut butter is helpful.
4. Know your number. GNC put together a cool calculator to help people know how many grams of protein they should take a day. Note that it also gives you a window – minimum to maximum. For example, my number is 95 – but my range is 78-111. For me, the only way I can get that much protein is to supplement. I can get about 60 or so grams of protein in whole foods (I’m not a big meat eater) and then I supplement with a couple of shakes or a shake and a bar to reach my daily goal. CLICK HERE to find YOUR number.
This is why many people can’t seem to shake the weight (pun intended). They add protein to their diet, forgetting it’s adding extra calories too. As a result, they gain weight or slow progress.
If you want to lose weight, those calories need to be shaved off somewhere else to make room for the calories coming from protein. Just because it’s protein doesn’t mean it’s “free calories”. Although they are good calories, they are still calories. So, in order to reach your goal, you need to set a budget for your shake matching your needs.
1. The Weight Gainer: Weight gainers can add protein to their diet without really worrying about the calories. If someone is a hard gainer, they probably need both fat and muscle weight in order to increase strength and size. So you are the lucky dog that can ignore this entire blog.
2. The Dieter: Dieters need to be in a caloric deficit. This means, they need to take in fewer calories than they are burning. In order to budget how many calories are coming from protein, simply multiple the number of grams of protein you are trying to get a day by 4. Since there are 4 calories in one gram of protein, this will give you the number of calories that are required to get your total grams of protein per day. But remember, that is just for the protein. That doesn’t include other ingredients you may add in a shake.
3. The Maintainer: This person wants to either preserve what they already have, or reshape their physique but still remain the same weight. This person will need to trade some fat and carb calories for protein calories so it evens out. In the end, they’ll still be eating the same amount of calories, but they will just be getting more protein.
FitStudio nutritionist Toby Amidor points out some of the worst offenders in smoothie land.
Smoothie King – NOT SO SMOOTH!
· Forty fluids ounces of “The Hulk Strawberry” weighs in at 1,928 calories, 64 grams of fat, and a whopping 250 grams of sugar.
Jamba Juice – IS JAMMING YOU WITH CALORIES!
· An original “Peanut Butter Moo’d” creamy treat has a staggering 770 calories and 109 grams of sugar.
CLICK HERE for fun and creative Designer Whey shake & protein recipes
When Chobani hit shelves here locally, the news quickly spread around the gym. This healthy snack was not only delicious, but it was higher in protein than regular yogurt. That’s why we literally have a whole drawer dedicated to it in our refrigerator. We actually eat so much of it, we have an overflow in our 2nd fridge in the garage.
There really aren’t a lot of snacks to choose from that are naturally high in protein. Before Chobani yogurt, the closest thing we could come to was cottage cheese. And, if you are like me, there is no way anyone is getting that lumpy mess down my throat. I just can’t get over the texture.
Then Chobani came and saved the day. Before Chobani I was eating regular yogurt, which can have double the carbs as greek yogurt, especially if you get the kind with fruit in it. It also had practically half the protein Chobani has. For a girl who’s not a big meat eater, the more protein I can get the better.
Why Eat Chobani? Well, for my fitness peeps, eating high-protein snacks, like Chobani (and Designer Whey bars, my other favorite high-protein snack), means preserving muscle and giving your body what it needs to repair muscle after hard workouts. For my non-workout folks, it means preventing muscle loss, which is even more important as we age.
This is why there was no surprise Chobani sponsored for the Olympics. What a perfect FIT! (pun intended!) They naturally power people every single day!
Way to go Chobani! Thank you for powering me – and Team USA!
- B -
I Am a Proud Chobaniac:
Today, I procrastinated and didn’t run until after 10am.
My punishment: The Sun.
There are always repercussions for poor decisions. I got what I deserved. Luckily, some of my neighbors’ sprinklers were on so I got to run throw them to cool me off.
My reward: My Shake.
There is nothing better than a crisp cold shake after a muggy hot run!
BERRY LEY LIME PIE
1 cup fat free milk
a nice long squeeze of Nellie & Joe’s Key West Key lime Juice*
1 cap of butter extract
1 cap of coconut extract (for a tropicalicious taste)
6+ black berries
1 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Praline protein
1 cup ice
Optional: 1/4 sheet of graham cracker (add last so it doesn’t blend all the way)
*Amount of key lime juice depends on how tart you like it.
252 calories, 28gms of protein
Key West Here I Come!!! YUM!
If you are like me, you are always looking for a new healthy high-protein treat. So, after my shout out on twitter, I got some twitterific recipes which I’ll be sharing periodically right here!
Meet Natalie Christman
Natalie is a fitness instructor, hair stylist, licensed massage therapist, music, dance, art, wife, sister, family and motivator.
Natalie’s Protein Balls Recipe:
3tblsp- natural peanut butter
1/2c- Chocolate Protein
Mix ingredients. If too sticky add a little more protein powder until dry and clumpy. Roll into ping pong sized balls and place on wax paper. Freeze until firm.
I am SO trying these!!
It’s time to go beyond the protein shake straw and trade the blender for a mixer so we can cook up some protein treats!
As a sequel to my last protein supplement blog “Behind the Straw“, my blog on protein smoothies, I am calling all fit chefs to fess up and share your favorite and unique protein treats including protein waffles, muffins, bars and other creative treats made with protein powder.
After tweeting out a request to see what kind of response I would get, I realized there are many of you eating some really good high-protein grub so I am making it my mission to spread the love! Here’s a sneak peak of a couple of my favorite recipes so far.
Protein Waffles by Julianne Talley
Protein Muffins by Ozzie Elyashiv
“Proud dad! Into fitness, nutrition, technology & TV. I sell fitness supplements & develop mobile games & apps for iOS. Love the gym!”
- 1 1/2 cups whole grain flour or buckwheat flour
- 3/4 cup ground flax seed
- 3/4 cup oat bran
- 1/2 cup stevia
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup vanilla or plain almond milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (can also use coconut oil)
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 apples, peeled, shredded
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup chopped mixed nuts
- 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
SHOW & TELL
To share your recipe, please give us your name, blog or website, twitter username, facebook URL and tell us what you do. Are you a mom, trainer, marathon runner or health nut. I will feature some of the best entries in a follow up blog.
There are a lot of people that take supplements, but it seems most people think of bodybuilders and athletes first when they think of drinking protein shakes – and there’s no one who knows protein better than Designer Whey.
As the #1 protein brand since 1993, they were around during the peek of spandex and body building, and they are thriving here and now – and fitness looks a lot different than it did 20 years ago. With the informative world wide web, people are more educated than ever and more aware of their need for protein in their diet. With this knowledge, protein has become a part of many people’s lives – and if I have to guess, most of them aren’t bodybuilders.
Of matter of fact, I’d guess they are moms, dads, runners, surfers, cyclists, health nuts, fitness newbies, experienced athletes, youth, seniors and basically every body type, age and race. My guess is there is no one Designer “way”. All of us Designer Whey fans (follow them on Facebook) use Designer Whey OUR way – and are loving it!
As a protein supplement enthusiast myself, I’m constantly looking for fresh new recipe ideas, so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered Designer Whey’s shake recipe page! YAYYYYY!!! Ingenious! Whether you use Designer Whey or another brand, you can start mixing it up like a pro with some of their creative yummy ideas. And, if I had to guess, I bet many of you have some great ideas too!!
In search for more great ideas, I asked what flavors and recipes my facebook friends liked and how they mix it up at home. Below are just a few of the first posts. Join the protein party and help us shake things up by sharing your recipe or favorite protein shake fix mix below! I’ll be doing a follow up blog to showcase YOUR recipes, blogs, web pages and/or personal profiles!
FACEBOOKERS SHAKING THINGS UP:
Melissa Henderson Chocolate protein powder- syntha 6 from BSN-with frozen banana, strawberries and peanutbutter
Christopher Borders GNC Wheybolic Extreme 60 CHOCOLATE
Patti Ambrosia McLean 8oz almond milk, body by vi shake mix (im sure whey mix would work) 1T instant coffee, ice and 1T baking cocoa. DELISH.
Ed Meade I have soooo many, but Butterfinger is probably my tops!
Jenee Simons Blueberry with ViSalus
Kristina Smith Davis Baked oatmeal! 1/2 cup whole oats, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder, 3 egg whites, 1 cup water, pinch of baking powder and 1-2 teaspoons of cinammon. I usually add 1/2 cup blueberries and sometimes a few pecans, but you can get really creative with your add-ins. Bake it in a preheated 350° oven for 25 minutes and presto! So good I sometimes have it twice a day!
Renee Bissonnette Langlois Kristina, that sounds yummy…maybe sunday for breakfast. vanilla for the protein powder and then the mix ins of raspberries, blueberries and honey.
Emily Gibbons Chocolate GNC wheybolic 60, natural peanut butter, and honey, skim milk, ice. Yumm.
Tammie Huff ISO 100 chocolate with a scoop of Myofusion Bananna Cream and a tablespoon of PB2!!!
Some of you are probably all ready to LASH out at me just after reading my title alone! Get your panties out of a wad. I don’t mean supplements are a waste of time and money. What I mean is they CAN be! YOU can easily waste your time and money on supplements if you aren’t doing YOUR job.
Supplements Require Team Work
“If you aren’t ready to work, you might as well take the money you want to spend on supplements and flush it down the toilet. You’ll end up just as poor, with less work, and get the same results: the same old out-of-shape body.”
I’m currently on GNC’s GenetixHD, which I love. However, just because I’m popping some pills and gulping down a re-workout drink doesn’t mean I’m going to get results without doing my part.
This is a partnership. My supplements have a job and I have a job. We are working together for the same goal. If I don’t do my share, I can’t expect results.
GNC’s GenetixHD products rock – if YOU rock.
- How can you expect increased energy to result in fat loss if you sit on your butt?
- How can you expect CLA to support a healthy body composition if YOU aren’t working to improve your body composition?
- Why work to protect muscle cells when you aren’t training muscle cells?
- Why take Meta-Ignite to boost calorie burn before, during and after a workout if you don’t actually “workout”.
- You can’t expect to start seeing abs if you aren’t sculpting abs, and burning off the fat covering them, with cardio. (I could go on and on)
Time to Supplement
When is it time to incorporate supplements in your routine? When YOU are ready to do the work you need to do to get the MOST out of those supplements. Otherwise, stick to vitamins, because that is piratically the only pill you can pop that doesn’t require work to get results!
“Supplements are made to SUPPORT your program, not BE your program.”
Supporting Results with Diet:
- Stick to 100-150 calorie snacks
- Aim for 300-400 calorie meals
- Eat 5-6 times a day
- Eat no closer than 2 hours apart (seems easy until you finish dinner and find yourself staring in the pantry 30 minutes later! ha!)
- Get a minimum of 100gms of protein a day
- Limit drinking calories (coke, alcohol, coffee (creamers), high-cal shakes)
White meat, dark green vegetables, oatmeal, grits, long grain rice (sparingly), Chobani greek yogurt, Designer Whey protein bars (for snacks), Smart Ones Satisfying Selections steamers (they ALL are high in protein), Uncle Ben’s Basmati Rice (this is the only 90-second rice that doesn’t taste like it’s drowning in preservatives – plus basmati is one of the lower-glycemic grains), almonds – and my absolute favorite night-time snack, 100-calorie popcorn.
Supporting Results with Exercise:
Weights: Lift heavy and hard a MINimum of 4 days a week. The more I can train, the more results I can expect. (being careful to support muscle development with supplements)
My supplements: Everything I’m currently taking and enjoying!
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.