Posts tagged protein

IsoPure: Low-Cal, Low Carb, High Protein

steve pfiester This year, Bonnie and I merged our blog site together with a new focus – fitness, food and faith. Together, we share our life. We share our victories and our failures. We share our life lessons (learned both the easy way and hard way), fitness tips, favorite recipes, workouts, marriage, helpful products, motivation, encouragement and important information we feel will help you reach your goals. Occasionally, she lets me put in my 2 cents. lol! This is one of those times!

I realize many people reading this blog may not have even been around in 1984. Though I may not tell you my age, let it suffice that I was very alive. Arguably, not a completely productive member of society (as you can see here in this picture!!), however I was a freshman in high school.

Madonna was crushing the charts with “Like a Virgin”, the space shuttle Challenger was orbiting the earth, Ronald Reagan was President and the movie “Footloose” was a huge hit. But to a pubescent high school kid, the only thing I could think of, even at that age, was getting swole. That’s right… pumping iron.

arnold_schwarzeneggerI had just joined the wrestling team, had my first kiss, and bought my first Miami Vice jacket. This quest for muscle and girls quickly fostered and interest into nutrition – and reading the magazines bragging of the huge bodybyuiliders of the 80’s. Guys like Chris Dickerson, Tom Platz, Sergio Oliva, and Lee Haney were the real live incredible hulks – and all of us boys wanted to know what was #Behindthemuscle .

Despite Reagan, and Madonna, and who cared about some cute kids dancing in a barn, what mattered most in 1984 was what Hal and Ernie did with a cement mixer in the name of science. Nature’s Best (the makers of IsoPure) was born. Oh the scandalous world of protein that still exists some 30 years later.

Even as a 14 year old I knew better than to assume that all protein was created equal. Truth be known, as soon as I got my first job I spent tons of money on all kinds of supplements. Whatever the “magazines” said, I took as scripture. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As these companies began to be regulated it was amazing how many were at fault for false claims, either about the efficacy, filtration process, quality or even the amounts of their claims of protein and results they could produce. Even in the 80’s there was a clear battle for reputable and effective protein that would bring a high school student, making $3.35 an hour at Burger King flipping burgers to spend his entire paycheck just to gain a pound or two of muscle.

Isopure Behind the Muscle

Fast forward 30 years, and Nature’s Best IsoPure‘s Whey Protein Isolate is still one of the most effective and coveted proteins on the market. Nature’s Best never sold out their principals, promising you steroid like results. They rely on the science of what quality protein provides for your body as it relates to lean mass and health.

isopure proteinThey have some products that aid in enhancing performance by adding some electrolytes and adding BCAA’s to a profile that will help more elite training, and Nature’s Best still provides whey isolate that is pure and free from any additives. Of course it is up to us, as athletes, to study what products best serve what types of training, as well as learn optimal times to take protein supplements. As we research, we realize the science behind the protein as it relates to filtration methods and efficacy and absorption. Knowing how and when to pair these products to our training and meals is as important as the protein itself.

isopure cocoteinI enjoy the whey isolate with oatmeal in the mornings, or added to my post workout shake. IsoPure allows for me to be able to control the additives and limit unwanted calories or supplements in my foods. One of the best tasting Isopure products on the market is the “Cocotein” coconut water 100% whey isololate. 100 calories for 20 grms of whey protein. Does it get any better than this?

If not in my oatmeal or shake, the isolate powder is versatile enough to add to an omelet or any pancake mix allowing me to adjust the protein ratios of almost any foods. I’m not just bragging about Isopure, I have been a customer for over 20 years and have never been disappointed, except when I am running low on supplies and have to rely on a less than reputable supplement. If I am not going to compromise my workouts, I want a supplement that isn’t going to compromise quality. Thanks again Hal and Ernie!! Great job, from a loyal customer.

steve pfiester bodybuilding- Steve P

IsoPure Facts:

  • 100% pure ion exchange whey protein isolate
  • 50gm protein per 2 scoops
  • No impurities
  • Completely lactose-free
  • Low calorie
  • Little or no fat
  • Little or no carbs
  • highest absorption rates
  • Clean tasting
  • Refreshing RTD (Ready To Drink) formulas


This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Isopure.

Improve Your Muscle AND Your Sleep

about timeIf you have been looking for a good recovery protein powder to help your muscles repair and rebuild while you sleep, AboutTime may have just what you need (and a whole lot more).

AboutTime is not your ordinary supplement company. They have a ton of unique products including Paleo-friendly bars, Vegan protein, lactose-free & gluten-free protein, healthy granola, pre-workout, creatine, meal replacement bars, vitamins, cleanses and all kinds of helpful supplements. Since I have been looking for a good recovery protein, I decided to order their recovery formula, plus a sampling of some other goodies, to see how I liked it. (Here’s a peek of my delivery!)

Beauty Sleep: Rest & Repair

sleepingIf only I could sleep as hard as my dog (right) – and be as muscular with as little effort as he puts into it! But, since this isn’t an option, I have to actually work at it.

AboutTime’s Nighttime Recovery formula not only helps your muscles repair WHILE you sleep, but it helps you FALL asleep and STAY asleep (which is something I struggle with). AboutTime’s formula is designed to help the fitness enthusiast relax, recover and sleep better, with key ingredients like micellar casein, coconut oil powder, tryptophan, and melatonin for night time muscle and energy recovery.

Casein is a slow digesting protein, which makes it a good muscle recovery protein supplement since we do most of our muscle repair at night.  The melatonin and tryptophan help to relax you and aid with sleep. These ingredients together kill two birds with one stone – help your muscle repair, and help your sleep.


Peanut-Butter proteinI’ve tried other recovery protein drinks, and while I have had some better tasting, higher calorie whey protein powders, I have NOT had a better tasting casein recovery drink. For some reason, muscle recovery “bed-time” protein powders can be pretty nasty. I always know it’s nasty if Steve has a hard time choking it down, ’cause he’s like Mikey, he’ll eat anything for the sake of muscle. Me, not so much!

So, I honestly went in this expecting the worst. To be even more honest, I didn’t take it the first night because I was dreading going through the trial process. The next night, I broke the seal, put 1 scoop in a water bottle with a few ounces of water, shook it up and just took it like a man – and to my surprise, it wasn’t bad.

I got the peanut butter flavor, and I could have totally dressed it up and made it taste even better, but I wanted to try it plain. It had a slightly chalky texture to it, but it tasted pretty good. Anything that tastes like peanut butter has to be good right?! lol

Effectivenessabout time recovery formula

I wish I could say I woke up with amazingly tone and fully-repaired muscle, but that is something that requires more time to be able to monitor. However, I fell right asleep and slept like a Chevy! (Get it? “Like a Rock”?! Sorry! Steve’s corny sense of humor has rubbed off on me over the years! ha).  Anyway, I definitely slept well and woke up refreshed so I was stoked about that! I’m going to give it a good go and tonight I plan to make a fun yummy protein shake out of it instead of shooting it down like it’s medicine.



paleo protein barI also tried (and loved) their Paleo-friendly fruit and nut bar, which was very different and yummy. The coconut bar is super clean and healthy, has minimal ingredients (3-5 per bar depending on flavor – all of which you can pronounce! ha!), is gluten-free and naturally sweetened with dates.

I had half the bar before my workout this morning and it tasted SO good, it took everything out of me not to eat the other half. Good thing I didn’t eat it all because, evidently, Steve needed it. The next time I looked at the bar, there was only one bite left! ha! Steve found it and nibbled away! So, I guess it wins the taste test! :)


About Time ProtieinOne thing I LOVE is that they offer sample size packets of protein so you can try different flavors. I sprinkled a little banana protein powder in with my plain yogurt. Then I added sliced fresh bananas and 1 tablespoon of granola (with a dash of cinnamon) and it was YUM! I would have NEVER tried banana protein powder if i had to buy the whole container, but this was a fun way to mix up my flavors without having to go all in for one flavor.

You have a choice of 7 fun flavors, including: Banana, Birthday Cake, Chocolate, Cinnamon Swirl, Mocha Mint, Strawberry and Vanilla.

About Time Whey Isolate Protein

  • Sweetened with Stevia
  • Lactose Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Made with No Artificial Sweeteners
  • Made with Non-GMO Whey Protein Isolate
  • 25gms protein
  • 100 calories


Their vegan protein is available in Vanilla, Chocolate and Cinnamon Spice.)

CLICK HERE to learn more about About Time and see if any of the products are right for you.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of About Time.

Protein Powder Product Review for Tasty Whey

Adaptogen Tasty WheyIn our business, I have the privilege of trying a good variety of supplements. The latest product I got to try is Tasty Whey by Adaptogen Science. This was a new product to me, and quite frankly, I was a little skeptical. First, I normally get vanilla protein and this was chocolate. With vanilla (I thought), I could add fruit or other things in it to dress it up if it doesn’t taste good. At least that is what I realized was behind my line of thinking about trying a new product.

So after a good long run, I went straight to the kitchen to put the protein powder to the test. I broke the seal and opened the container, still thinking of what I could put in it to make it taste good. But before I committed to adding anything, I decided to just make it with Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk and maybe some peanut butter, and try it first. THEN, if it needed dressing up, at least I had given it a shot pretty plain.

Taste Test 

Tasty WheyLow and behold, after just blending 1 scoop of powder (20g protein) with the almond milk, it was perfectly sweet and really yummy. With other protein powders, I often add sugar-free jello mix, stevia, PB2 or other things in it to make it more palatable. This protein needed nothing.

I grabbed the container to see what all was in it and read the name ‘Tasty WHEY‘. “OOOOOoooh! I get it! That’s why they call itTasty WHEY! It is truly a tasty whey protein powder!”  Yes, I know! I am slow sometimes!

When I opened the product, I didn’t realize the name was Tasty Whey. I just saw “Adaptogen”. Then again, I probably wouldn’t believed them anyway because everyone claims to have a tasty product (but many of them are either lying or they have bad tastebuds! This protein truly was very tasty! I could easily drink this stuff alone (and I’m picky). I already had the peanut butter out, so I do confess I added a tab but that was because I wanted to boost my fat since I wasn’t going to eat for a while. Needless to say, I sucked it down in a jiffy!

Quality Check

Adaptogen Tasty Whey The next question I have is whether or not it was a quality protein. I mean, normally speaking, most things that are yummy might not be as healthy. I was happy to see that Adaptogen provides exceptional nutrition. It promotes peak wellness by use of a combination of exceptionally high quality whey protein, along with fat burning MCTs (medium chain triglycerides – learn more about MCTs here), low glycemic index carbohydrates, and micronutrients AND with an AWESOME taste too!

It is a little higher in calories than the one I normally use, but after I added all the calories from the extra stuff I put in it, it really came out to be about the same. I also like that it has some fat in it. This will help it stick with me longer. The milkshake flavor would also make this a great shake for someone who has kids or older adults who need to supplement but are reluctant to drink protein because they haven’t liked the taste of other brands.

All in all – Tasty WHEY offers a quality product AND quality taste. OK. I admit it. I’m impressed.

How to Buy & Follow:

Nutrition Information

Adaptogen Tasty Whey:

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Adaptogen Science.

How to Choose the Right RTG Protein Drink

atkins caramel cafe shakeAs people start the New Year off with new fitness goals, more people are in search for good supplements and healthy snacks to help them stick to their diet. But what do you look for when trying to find a protein snack?

There are many different variations of protein supplements. There are shakes, bars and ready-to-go Shakes, or RTGs. RTGs are pre-made protein shakes that are great for people on the go and don’t have access to a blender and all the shake-making fixings.  The profile for various RTGs vary quite a bit. What you need will depend on what time you eat it.

Atkin's shakesFor instance, if you are looking for a snack to eat between, or in place of meals, and you want it to curb your appetite and boost energy, you need an RTG that has a good amount of fat in it. Fat slows digestion, which will keep you feeling full.

The only time you would want a low-fat, high protein RTG is you are drinking it directly after a workout. A great example of an awesome RTG for a snack that will stick with you is Atkins Milk Chocolate Delight Shake (and the Café Caramel Shake looks to die for, but I haven’t tried that flavor yet!). Atkins RTGs are only 160 calories and have 15gms protein, 4-5g carbs (3g net carbs) and 9g of fat. Not only will you find that this shake tastes much better and richer, you will find that the higher fat content will help this shake stay with you longer – and that is important, especially while trying to restrict calories.

Beware of Sugar & Carbs

kellog's shake nutrientsI compared Atkins shake (which you can get at the grocery store) to other so-called protein RTGs on the shelf, and there was a startling difference. One popular shake was 190 calories (vs 160), only 10gms of protein (vs 15gms) and 5gms of fat (vs 9gms), and a whopping 30 GRAMS of carbohydrates (vs 4-5gms). It had 18gms of sugar vs Atkins 1gm of sugar. What does this means to you? It means you’ll be starving in about 2 seconds after you drink it. The high-carb high-sugar shake will spike your blood sugar for a moment, but likely follow with a pretty quick and awful sugar crash – leaving you hungry and unsatisfied.

Boost Proteins & Fats 

When I reflect back on my first week on Atkins, I could most definitely tell that the higher fat, higher protein diet kept me much fuller and content. Sadly, people are scared to have fat because they treat fat like a 4-letter word. Healthy fats are incredibly helpful for dieters and maintain good nutrition. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, is what does the most damage. Unfortunately, many dieters aren’t getting the protein and fat they need on their high-carb, low-fat diets – and they’re wondering why they are so miserable and hungry all the time. (Watch the Fat Heads movie – SO enlightening!)

If you are changing your shopping and eating, choose fat over carbs, low-fat over fat-free items and beef up your protein (pun intended!). You will be amazed how much better you will feel and how much faster you will get results – both with your health AND your waistline!!

Here’s more on what i learned about Atkins Diet – definitely not what I originally thought!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Atkins.

Refreshing Protein Drinks for Hot Days

isopure protein drinkIf you are like me, sometimes the thought of another frothy thick milky protein shake on a hot day is enough to make you want to gag. When you have a protein shake every day, they can get old. Of course, this isn’t always the case with everyone. I don’t think my husband EVER gets tired of them! However, I am very different. I don’t like super sweet drinks and I don’t crave sweets so I struggle to get a chocolatey milky shake down sometimes. So, when IsoPure asked if I would like to try some of their crystal clear protein drinks, I jumped on the opportunity!

Gulp Gulp!

isopure drinksThe first drink I tried was their Cocotein. OMG! That’s all I can say. OOOO MMMMM GGGGGGG! My eyes must have popped out of my head when I took my first taste. I had to read the label again to make sure I was seriously getting 20gms of protein in such a refreshing awesome tasting cold beverage!! I was FREAKING out!!! I was sad I only had one bottle. I chugged down a few sips after a hot run, enjoying every drop. Being the wonderful wife I am (lol), I saved a little for Steve so he could taste it too because that’s what you do when you taste something amazing. He doesn’t even like coconut water and it wowed him too!! So I am hooked! Now I have to do a GNC run and stock up!

Where to buy them:

Vitamin Shoppe
Lucky Vitamin

Why would you want to get IsoPure (besides because it tastes ridiculously good)?

  1. Lactose Free – First, for all those lactose intolerant peeps, IsoPure Drinks are Lactose Free!
  2. Low-Carb/Low Fat – Most of their drinks are super low-carb and have little to no fat.
  3. Extra Oomph – IsoPure has potassium, sodium and to help replace electrolytes from sweating.  Their IsoPure Teas have caffeine, BCAAs and antioxidants too (SO COOL!)!
  4. Refreshing & Thirst-Quenching – The crystal clear drink is super refreshing, tasty and easy on the tummy!
  5. Yummy! – Out of all the flavors I tried, I have to say the Cocotein is definitely my favorite.

There you have it! There’s my review on IsoPure drinks! Now, go out and grab a bottle and see for yourself!! And don’t you leave without trying the Cocotein – and then tell me what you think!!!! YUMMMMMMM!!

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muscle motivation

Snack SMART: Breakfast, Cereal and Protein Bar Comparison

Smart BarI recently was introduced to a new kind of protein bar, called the SMART bar. If you have followed me for any length of time, it probably didn’t take long to see that I like my protein supplements.

When it comes to bars, I’m a bit picky. I want at least 10gms of protein, but I also don’t want that many calories. I also want it to taste good. I’m not going to eat cardboard just because it has protein in it. Sorry, I want to enjoy my food thank you very much. :) Ufortunately, many bars are extremely high in calories. Thank goodness, more bar companies are making smaller versions of the old 30gms-of-protein-and-a million-calories kind of bars. Even if it’s packed with protein, it normally tips the caloric scale for most calorie-conscience people. Then SMART enters the world.

Before I give you the scoop on SMART, I should tell you I have probably 5-6 types of bars in my pantry right now. I like chocolate ones, peanut butter ones, caramel ones, crunchy ones and gooey ones. Some are higher in calories and protein, some are lower in calories and protein. Some make great snacks, and some are more like a meal replacement when I’m in a bind. What I’m saying is, there are different bars for different people and different purposes. The SMART bar, however, is definitely one of my favorites for light snacks and breakfasts.


I could tell you how healthy it is, that’s gluten free, low in sugar, and all that jazz (and don’t worry, I will in a sec), but first I’m going to just tell you what my taste buds say about the bar – because honestly, if they don’t like it, it ain’t going to make it past them to my belly!

SMART barAs a coffee lover (don’t hate! Everyone has their vise, and mine is coffee – LOVE IT!), I really enjoy having a bar with coffee when I don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast. However, some bars are too sweet for me and they upset my stomach. The SMART bar is an oatmeal bar that is mildly sweet, which makes for a great breakfast bar on the go. Unlike regular cereal bars, the SMART bar is low in sugar (only 4gms!), which is 50-80% less sugar than many of it’s competitors. It has 10gms of protein and 3gms of fiber so it is filling and stays with me. And the best part, is it’s SUPER low in calories – only costing me 130 calories to eat!


smart barNot only is this bar low in calories and tastes good, this bar is sure easy to take on the go because it doesn’t melt or crumble like a lot of chocolate covered bars. This makes it a great bar to keep in your car, purse or gym bag in case of emergencies. It also makes it a great bar to grab for the car ride to work (like you see at the top of this blog). I actually took this on the way to work last week when I discovered I nearly forgot about an early morning appointment. Since this bar is a soft bar with a nice moist solid consistency, it makes eating and driving mess-free. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten out of my car only to discover a doo-doo brown chocolate smudge on the back of my pants because a bar crumbled in my lap with each bit! ha! (Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens too???!!!!) :P


After I read the label, I knew it would crush a lot of snack bars. Most low-calorie breakfast and snack bars are much lower in protein, but higher in carbs and sugar. Protein bars that have 10gms of protein or more are normally much higher in calories, carbs, sugar and fat. And, if you are going gluten-free or paleo, a lot of those bars are high in fat and/or carbs but lower in protein than I prefer – and normally way higher in calories. While I will still enjoy all these type bars too, (like I said, there is a place for all of that), I just love having a low-calorie healthy option.

It’s one thing for ME to tell you I like this bar, but it’s another thing for YOU to see how it compares for yourself. So, I did a little research. I picked a few different types of snack-like bars (from cereal bars to paleo bars) that were comparable to the SMART bar to compare nutritional information.

After doing the research and listing the information, it is clear that SMART bars are a SMART choice if you are looking for a bar low in calories, carbs, fats and sugars with a healthy dose of protein in it. Awesome snack bar! Check it out!

protein bar comparison chart

Smart Bar FAQs

  • Low in Calories
  • Low-fat
  • 50-80% less sugar
  • Certified gluten free
  • 9g of whole grains
  • 3g fiber
  • Certified gluten free, organic rolled oats
  • Real organic or baked fruit
  • 38% organically raised ingredients
  • No hydrogenated oils
  • Cocoa and palm kernel oil is certified by the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Fairtrade, and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
  • Minimal artificial sweetener (Stevia) because it relies mainly on the sweetness mainly from fruit
  • Not Vegan or Kosher (however they do use a certified porcine free gelatin source.)

See all the FAQ information on their website.


What flavor would you like to try? Apple or Blueberry? Comment below for a chance to win a box of SMART bars to try out yourself! I’ll pick 3 winners HERE and 2 winners on Facebook when you share this comparison chart from my facebook page!

(Note: Cranberry coming soon)

Detour SMART bars are available online at and, and in select retailers including GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and Vitamin World, with the bars becoming more widely available over the coming months.

Will Tattoo For Protein

You know I don’t really do giveaways or push sweepstakes, but this contest is super easy – and well worth it!! We all know supplements can add up, so why not enter to win a WHOLE YEAR’s worth!! Right?! All you need to do is tattoo Designer Whey somewhere on your body. WHAAAAT?!?! hahaha Okayyyy, not really! Designer Whey is giving out free TEMPORARY tattoos for a chance to win killer prizes. :) Here’s the scoop…

Designer whey

20th Anniversary Tattoo Photo Contest (10 Chances to Win!)
Follow these three EASY steps (Must be a US resident 18 or older):

  1. Enter your contact info below so we can send you FREE temporary tattoos (don’t worry, we won’t spam you, just free tattoos for all!) Everyone needs a free tattoo, right?
  2. Snap a pic with your favorite tattoo.
  3. Upload your photo using the link on our Facebook page, or simply post on Twitter or Instagram using #DesignerWhey20.

CLICK HERE to enter!
See more!


FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sculpt Your Body With What You Eat

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…”

Training for muscleWhile 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

Eating for MuscleNow 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. :)

Calories IN vs Calories OUT

What’s Your Number?

Click HERE to use GNC’s Protein Calculator to help you decide how much protein should be in your diet.

What's Your Number?

Top 5 Tips Every Fitness Newbie Should Know

5 common fitness questionsAs 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?

what to eat before a workoutSteve 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:


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? 

What First? Weights or CardioTo 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? 

How many reps should I do?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? 

map out your workout scheduleThis 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!

30 Days of Motivation: Does Your Diet Need More Muscle?

Protein shakeIf 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.

protein shake3. 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.

my protein number

Today’s Mantra:

2013 feed for fuel

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