How To Eat Like An Athlete For Muscle Gain

Getting and staying fit takes a tremendous toll on the body, and how you feed your muscles plays a big part in how effective your workout is. So take advice straight to the source, the experts who spend every day pushing their bodies to the max in order to stay in peak form: professional athletes. Here are their best tips on how to fuel your body to get the most out of your workouts and eating habits:

  1. Keep your meals balanced. There are certain nutrients your body needs to gain muscle, and your best bet is to get some out of every meal. Include servings of protein, carbs, and healthy fats in everything you eat to help your body recover from your last workout and get ready for the next one.

  2. Eat three meals a day. Most of us think in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but athletes break their day into: breakfast, preworkout, and postworkout, plus lots of snacks in between. And, they never EVER miss a meal.

  • Breakfast: Always eat breakfast, even if you exercise first thing in the morning. Even if you don’t feel hungry, your body is, and your workout won’t be half as effective if you don’t fuel before a training session.
  • Preworkout: Think of your body as an engine. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to make it go if there’s no fuel to burn. Without food in your system your muscles are hungry, which means that they perform less efficiently and so you’ll gain less muscle and burn less fat.
  • Postworkout: After a workout it’s all about replacing what you’ve used. That means carbs for energy and protein to rebuild muscle. It’s important to have a snack within 30 minutes after finishing a session and a full meal within one to two hours.

  3. Load up on carbs. While carbs has become a major in the world of dieting, that’s the stuff your body is burning when you works out. Pro athletes often eat 3x more carbs than protein in order to make sure they have plenty of calories to keep them going.

  4. Choose nutrient dense foods. While some gym heads swear by their protein shakes, most athletes will tell you that if you eat right your body is be able to get everything it needs. Shakes and supplements should never replace a meal. Add more lean meats, poultry, seafood, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fruits, and veggies to your diet before you ever start supplementing.

  5. Chug sports drinks. But don’t forget that your calorie count includes the drinks you’re consuming. Athletes drink water to hydrate and only use sports drinks to boost sports performance during training sessions that last longer than 60 minutes.

It all comes down to is this: food is the key ingredient for fueling, refueling, and repairing your body. If you eat right your body will have everything it needs to perform when you want and how you want. But without proper nutrition, your training sessions will be less effective and you’ll be less likely to achieve the results you’re looking for.

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How To Make Perfect Green Smoothies

One of the latest health trends are green smoothies. Read on to find out why I love them and why you should love them too, plus some essential tips for making the perfect green smoothie.

Are you looking for a nutritious, filling, and easy-on-the-stomach breakfast? A green smoothie may be just what you’re looking for!

Here are the reasons why I love them and why you should love them too:

  • They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Since you are consuming both fruits and vegetables, you are getting a variety of nutrients. Depending on your ingredients, your smoothie could contain vitamins A, C, E, and K as well as important minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium, and calcium.
  • They are easily digestible.  When you blend produce, the cell walls inside are ruptured and allow for the nutrients they contain to be easily digested and absorbed. Green smoothies are perfect for waking your digestive system up slowly, so if you usually have GI issues after eating breakfast, try swapping your morning toast with a green smoothie.
  • They can help ward off disease. Leafy green vegetables fight against aging and disease by reducing inflammation in the body. 
  • They keep you full. By blending whole fruits and vegetables, you are getting lots of fiber. And fiber is great not only for keeping you full, but also helps detox your body. 
  • They provide your daily needs of 2-3 cups of leafy green vegetables. It can be hard getting in a variety of vegetables throughout the day. By starting off with a green smoothie, you are insuring you meet your daily requirement of green vegetables. 

Here are some essential tips for making the perfect green smoothie:

  • Start slowly. The first time you make one, add no more than 2 handfuls of greens to adjust to the taste. With time you will get used to the flavor and you can start adding in more leafy greens. 
  • Start basic. Spinach is very mild in flavor, making it a great green to try first. After a couple smoothies, try adding in other greens, such as kale, for nutrient variety. 
  • Use a good blender. The better your blender, the less you’ll taste the texture of the greens. If you don’t have a good blender, try ripping up the greens before adding them to your smoothie. 
  • Blend greens and liquids first. For best texture, place your greens and whatever juices or milks you’re using in the blender first. Blend until the greens reach desired texture, then add in the rest of your ingredients. 
  • Use a mix of frozen and fresh fruit. While not necessarily essential, frozen fruit allows you to skip ice cubes, which can water down your smoothie. Plus, many frozen fruits provide a creaminess to your green smoothie.
  • Include a protein source. Green smoothies should be filling as well as nutritious. Having protein in your smoothie will help you make it to lunch without needing a snack. Protein ideas include whey protein powder, all natural peanut butter, or chia seeds. 

Not sure what to put in your first green smoothie? Just get creative and try different things out. Slowly you will find the combinations you love the most. Happy Blending! 

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Does Eating Less Make Your Stomach Shrink?

Your belly does have rubber band-like properties, but that doesn’t mean you can change its size?

If you cut back on your food intake, will your stomach actually get smaller, so you’re satisfied with less food?

Sorry, but it’s a myth that your stomach can shrink.

We’ve all heard that thing about how cutting back on calories causes your appetite to reset, and how over time, your elastic stomach actually shrinks down, so you full up on smaller portions.

If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it kind of is, experts say. Yes, your belly does have rubber band-like properties that allow it to change size. For instance, the elasticity makes it easier to gorge when presented with a giant meal to help us avoid starving in times of famine. This is something most modern humans don’t have to worry about. But back in our cave-people days, it was helpful.

As for shrinkage? Your stomach is capable of quickly snapping back to normal size after a feast. But it’s not going to continue to get smaller-even if you start eating less.

If eating less was all it took to shrink your stomach, it would mean that average weight people have smaller stomach’s than people who are overweight or obese. But that’s not the case. Regardless of how much we weigh, everyone’s stomach is pretty much the same size.

If you’re still skeptical, consider this: Your body was designed to take in enough calories to keep it running, even during times when food is scarce. So, you better believe that it’s not going to shrink your stomach when you feed it less.

In fact, most of us tend to feel hungrier when we slash our caloric intake. Your system gets flooded with the hunger hormone ghrelin, making food even harder to resist. At the same time, your body temperature and metabolic rate slowdown in an attempt to conserve precious energy.

That’s a long-winded way of saying this: Drastically cutting your portions not only wont shrink your stomach-it’ll probably backfire. And if you managed to lose any weight, you’ll likely regain the pounds with interest.

Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Thank you for reading. Be sure to subscribe down below to get notified when I post more articles like this!

Health Tips For When You’re On Your Period

Okay, so we always talk about health tips for weight loss, weight gain, etc… but what about health tips for when your menstruating? So, this article is for all us women who menstruate! I honestly had no idea how MUCH making a few simple lifestyle changes can make your load not only lighter, but lessen your period cramps too. So, let’s get into it:

  1. Plan one meal a day to be a MASSIVE salad. In mine I include mixed leafy greens, tuna, tomatoes, carrots, avocado or a healthy source of fat. And what truly helped my gut is drizzling it with a homemade dressing made from lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. This has helped my skin, bloating, and really everything.
  2. Drink your damn water. Since I started drinking warm water with every meal and heaps in between! My cramps are practically gone.
  3. Vitamin C. I actually started making ‘juice’ with a third of a grapefruit, half an orange, one kiwi fruit and half a lemon all in a food processor or blender with some ice and water and this has helped my energy levels, fought off a cold, protected me from all my sick friends, and helped with my period.
  4. NO PROCESSED SUGAR THE DAYS LEADING UP TO YOUR PERIOD! I see you with your mars bar! put the mars bar down and get some fruit. I get the temptation but honestly, your body will be thanking you for this one. Avoid processed foods as well and keep it simple, trust me, it’s what your body needs.
  5. Exercise while on your period. I know you don’t feel like it, I know you just want to stay curled up with a heat pack but this will help. Try it out, doesn’t have to be anything intense, just get yourself moving for a little bit!

Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. Thank you for reading. Be sure to subscribe down below to get notified when I post more recipes like this!

The Different Kinds Of Salt And Which Is Better

We all know sodium or “salt” has taken a bad reputation for many years due to its ill effects on the body. As much as regular table salt (a.k.a. iodized salt) is known to have ill effects, there is also a flip side to Sodium in general. Not all salt is the same and our bodies “need” Sodium to carry out proper bodily functions. Actually, Sodium is so important that it is overlooked / underestimated and one of the main Macro-minerals that is tested for in blood tests along with: Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus and Magnesium. I guess we can come the conclusion that salt is very important, right? True enough. But I am pretty sure I know what you are thinking, if table salt (Iodized Salt) is bad for you, what salt is good for you? That would be an excellent question to ask. There are about 3 main types of edible salts to use which are similar but also vastly different, plus 10 other salt varieties we don’t see everyday. Here we go:

Iodized Salt (Table Salt)

Table salt is mixed with a minute amount of various salts of the element Iodine. The ingestion of iodine prevents iodine deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Deficiency also causes thyroid gland problems, including “endemic goitre”. In many countries, iodine deficiency is a major public health problem that can be cheaply addressed by purposely adding small amounts of Iodine to the Sodium Chloride salt.

This would be the worst kind of salt to use. This is the regular salt that most physicians will tell you to cut down or stay away from. The most common physical side effect of the use of table salt would be developing high blood pressure. This would be correct. Because table salt has been refined and tampered with, all the good trace minerals (which usually come along with salt in general) are stripped away and possibly other ingredients added to it (like Iodine). Table salt creates problems like mineral imbalances which in then in turn causes inflammation throughout the body. I do not recommend anyone to use table salt except for salting their driveway in the winter time. I kid you not.

Sea Salt

Is salt produced from the evaporation of seawater, rather than by being extracted from sedimentary deposits. It is commonly used in cooking and cosmetics. It is also called bay salt or solar salt. Like mineral salt, production of sea salt has been dated back to prehistoric times.

Climbing the quality latter would be choosing sea salt. Although some resources will say there is little to no other benefit to using sea salt over table salt, I disagree. Sea salt is a lot better than table salt, less processed and more natural of course. Not to mention, you are also getting about 60 trace minerals (which the body benefits from and/or needs) where table salt falls short. Sea salt doesn’t affect a person’s blood pressure like table salt does. A person with high blood pressure should be able to use sea salt with no problems (consult with a physician if not sure). Overall, sea salt tastes better than table salt which is probably due to its trace mineral content.

Himalayan Pink Salt

Is rock salt or halite from the Punjab region of Pakistan. It was named “Himalayan Pink Salt” after the iron rich pink clay ore found in the Himalayas.

Stepping up the quality a notch, is my personal favorite Himalayan Salt. Mined out of the Himalayas, this pink type of salt is better than Table and Sea Salt in my opinion. Himalayan Salt typically has about 84 trace minerals which gives it a very robust mineral profile. Himalayan Salt also doesn’t affect a person’s blood pressure like table salt does (on the contrary actually). A person with high blood pressure should be able to use Himalayan Salt as well with no problem (consult with a physician if not sure). Himalayan Salt also tastes better than Table Salt which is probably due to its robust trace mineral content. I personally use Himalayan Salt and encourage other to do so as well. On a side note, every person I have had try Himalayan salt over any other has not gone back to their old salt. Just saying…

Now for the less popular salt varieties:

Kosher Salt

Koshering salt, or kosher salt, is flakier and coarser than regular table salt. Its large grain size makes it perfect for sprinkling on top of meat, where it releases a surprising blast of flavor. Kosher salt also dissolves quickly, making it a perfect all-purpose cooking salt.

And believe it or not, all kosher salt is not certified kosher. Rather, it’s used in the koshering process, when surface fluids are removed from meat through desiccation.

Celtic Sea Salt

Also known as sel gris, or grey salt, Celtic sea salt is harvested from the bottom of tidal ponds off the coast of France. The salt crystals are raked out after sinking; this, plus the mineral-rich seawater its extracted from, gives Celtic salt its moist, chunky grains, grey hue and briny taste.

It’s great on fish and meat, as both a cooking and finishing salt, as well as for baking.

Fleur De Sel

French for flower of salt, fluer de sel is a sea salt hand-harvested from tidal pools off the coast of Brittany, France. Paper-thin salt crystals are delicately drawn from the water’s surface, kinda like cream is taken from milk. This can only be done on sunny, dry days with a slight breeze, and only with traditional wooden rakes. Because of its scarcity and labor-intensive harvesting, fleur de sel is the most expensive salt. Its nickname is “the caviar of salts.”

It retains moisture and has blue-grey tint from its high mineral content and oceanic beginnings. If you can afford it, use fleur de sel as a finishing salt to add an impressive dash of flavor to meat, seafood, vegetables, even sweets like chocolate and caramel.

Kala Namak

Kala namak, or black salt, is Himalayan salt that’s been packed in a jar with charcoal, herbs, seeds and bark, then fired in a furnace for a full 24 hours before it’s cooled, stored and aged.

This process gives kala namak its reddish-black color, its salty taste and a faint aroma of eggs. It’s often used in vegan and vegetarian dishes to give egg-free dishes the taste of egg.

Flake Salt

Harvested from salt water through evaporation, boiling, or other means, flake salt is thin and irregularly shaped with a bright, salty taste and very low mineral content.

This shapes means the crunchy flake salt dissolves quickly, resulting in a “pop” of flavor. Use it as a finishing salt, especially on meats or pretzels.

Black Hawaiian Salt

Aka black lava salt, black Hawaiian salt is a sea salt harvested from the volcanic islands of Hawaii. It gets its black color from the addition of activated charcoal.

Coarse-grained and crunchy, black Hawaiian salt is great for finishing pork and seafood.

Red Hawaiian Salt

Aka alaea salt, this unrefined, red Hawaiian salt gets its name and color from the reddish volcanic clay alaea.

Used for centuries in ceremonial ways for cleansing, purification and the blessing of tools, red Hawaiian salt is also great in the kitchen, adding an attractive finish and robust flavor to seafood and meat, as well as traditional Hawaiian dishes.

Smoked Salt

Slow-smoked up to two weeks over a wood fire, like hickory, mesquite, apple, oak or alder wood, smoked salt adds an intense and smoky flavor to dishes.

Depending on the time smoked and the wood used, tastes will vary from brand to brand. Smoked salt is the best of the different types of salt to use for flavoring meats and heartier vegetables like potatoes.

Pickling Salt

Pretty self explanatory. Used for pickling and brining, pickling salt does not contain many of the trace minerals of sea salt, which can cause ugly discoloration of the preserved food.

Truffle Salt

Is a finishing salt, usually consisting of sea salt that has been laced with fragrant pieces of black or white truffle. It has a meaty, earthy flavor and is often added as a seasoning to egg, meat, and pasta dishes. Unlike truffle oil, truffle salt is not usually of synthetic origin.

Not largely popular and still quite new for general use is truffle salt. Similar to sea salt and himalayan salt, truffle salt is quite similar in taste as well as trace mineral profile. Truffle salt is more like sea salt with a few more extra minerals in it and is well known for its “earthly taste” over its himalayan counterpart. Due to its unpopularity, truffle salt can be a tad hard to find so opting for himalayan salt is the next best choice.

Now that we know the different types of salts that are out there for use, we can dive in further on some of the benefits to sodium/salt in the diet.

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Nutrition Tips For Eating Better All Winter Long

The colder it gets, the more your body craves an excess of carbs and fat. Pair that with the fact that fewer fruits and vegetables are in season, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for seasonal weight gain. Fortunately for you, I’ve got some great tips for how to stay fit through that long, cold winter.

1. Put pomegranates on a pedestal. A few years ago, pomegranate juice was all the rage. These tiny gem-like seeds (and the juice that comes from them) are rich in antioxidants, reduce arterial plaque buildup, and may improve blood flow to the heart. They’re delicious, extremely good for you, and a great snack option.

2. It’s easy being green. Dark leafy vegetables like kale, chard, and collards thrive in the chill of winter. They’re also especially high in potassium and vitamins A and C. Try them in salads, as sides, or even bake them as chips.

3. Eat your brussels sprouts. With more protein than most vegetables and lots of fiber, brussels sprouts make for a delicious and filling side dish. They can also help detoxify the body, fight cancer and reduce inflammation. Not bad for a vegetable we all hated as kids.

4. Squash all doubts. Low in fat and high in fiber, squash are one of the healthiest winter vegetables. The fiber makes it heart-friendly, potassium for enhanced blood flow, while vitamin B6 helps both the nervous system and immune system function efficiently. Plus, with names like butternut, acorn, spaghetti and delicata, they’re even more fun to say than they are to eat.

5. Orange you glad for citrus. Lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, and citrus fruits are at their juiciest in the wintertime. Obviously they’re a powerful source of vitamin C, but did you know they’re also great for your cholesterol? Even better, their bright acidic flavors put you in mind of sunnier days ahead.

6.  Pay attention to potatoes. Normally, starches are a bad thing, lumped together with bleached flour and white rice. But potatoes actually have a number of beneficial nutrients. They’ve got vitamins B6 and C which boost your immune system, folate for pregnant women, and if you can find the purple ones, they’re even known to lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

7.  Open yourself up to oats. Rich in fiber, as well as both calcium and potassium, whole grain oats are a great way to stay heart healthy and reduce your blood pressure. The fiber will also fill you up, which is why studies show that people who eat oatmeal for breakfast consume 1/3 less calories at lunch. And it gets extra credit for actually warming you up.

Moral of the story, focus on enjoying the vegetables and fruits that are in season in the winter. The other staples of winter are just as good for you, like onions, carrots, fennel, turnips, and beets, which all have nutritional properties that help you lose weight and stay healthy. You can also indulge in foods high in protein and good fats, like lean meats, fish, nuts, olives and avocado. And before you know it winter will be out of the way and you’ll have a great crop of spring vegetables to choose from.

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Juicing vs. Smoothies: Which One Is Right for You?

Anything that encourages you to add more fresh produce to your diet is a good thing, since most Americans don’t eat enough of it. And what better way to love your body than to feed it whole, healthy foods… even if they are in liquid form? But the benefits of juicing differ a bit from those of smoothies. Not quite sure which one’s for you? It all depends on what you’re looking for. This guide to drinking your fruits and veggies will help you decide which is the best option for you.

It’s All About the F Word

It turns out that it all comes down to fiber. When you make a smoothie, you pulverize whole pieces of fruit, which keeps fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients intact. However, when you extract while juicing, you lose the insoluble fiber, leaving you only with nutrient-packed juice.

So, the biggest difference you’ll experience is feeling a lot fuller after drinking a smoothie. And if you add a little protein to your smoothie—we’re talking milk or low-fat yogurt—then it can even replace a meal.

Juicing, on the other hand, often includes vegetables that you may not otherwise consume, which is great! However, juices don’t contain protein or fiber, so they won’t keep you full too long. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that juicing is a great way to add more nutrients to your meals. Plus, juices are also absorbed much faster into your system.

So, Smoothies > Juices?

Not necessarily. There’s no wrong way to eat raw fruit and vegetables. Consuming raw plants is the closest you can get to getting energy directly from the sun. When it comes to smoothies vs. juices, the debate should be turned away from “Which is better?” into “Which do I need right now?” Everyone is different, including our dietary needs and lifestyles.

Whichever You Choose, DIY Is The Way To Go

If you choose to go for smoothies because of the added benefit of fiber, we recommend making them yourself. The problem with made-to-order and bottled smoothies is that they can be high in sugar and calories because they may include sweetened yogurt or juice, frozen yogurt, sorbet, or even ice cream. So it’s best to make smoothies yourself, this way at least you know what you’re getting from them.

Feel free to increase your intake of plant-based foods by whipping up a yummy smoothie or some refreshing juice. Whichever you choose, both can be great options. You can only eat so much kale everyday, right? And liquid nutrients are much better than no nutrients at all! Happy juicing and/or blending.

New Eating Habits For A New Year

Now that the holiday season and its never-ending supply of parties and gift baskets is behind you, it’s time to get prioritize our nutrition. So in the spirit of helping you to reach your goals and keep your resolutions, I’ve compiled a list of tips of healthier eating strategies. These tips will be helpful to you no matter what your health and nutritional goals are because they aren’t targeted towards a particular diet. Good nutrition is universal. So, here it goes:

1. Don’t skip breakfast. Everyone says that it’s the most important meal of the day, and they’re right. If you don’t eat within 60 minutes of waking, your body goes into starvation mode and holds onto fat cells. Eat something low in sugar and high in protein to kick your metabolism into high gear for the whole day.

2. More meals throughout the day. Break up your food throughout the day, rather than downing 1000 calories at once. Smaller, more frequent meals will keep your blood sugar within that sweet spot where your body is breaking down fat, rather than storing it for later, or worse, attacking muscle for a quicker source of energy.

3. Better portion sizes. Ever wonder why European people are so skinny? On average, American portion sizes are 15%-20% more than European ones. So instead of finishing the bag or cleaning your plate, eat until you feel full and quit while you’re ahead. You can always eat more later when you’re hungry again.

4. Try to plan ahead. Let’s face it, our biggest enemy to eating healthy is time. Try cooking in advance, like preparing a whole week’s worth of food on Sunday. If you’re not that much of a planner, you can portion your different vegetables and only cook basic proteins and grains beforehand to turn into a variety of dishes later, making meal time easier and simpler.

5. Enjoy your food. Eat your food on a plate and with silverware and sit down at a table. Chew slower. Try to avoid distractions during this time, and actually pay attention to how good your food tastes. This way you’ll be giving your body time to recognize when it’s full, and you might even enjoy your meals more.

6. Snack first. Taking the kids for fast food? Got a work party to go to? Eat before you leave for any destination where you’re likely to overeat and the food isn’t going to be necessarily healthy. You’ll be less hungry when you get there, so you’ll be more likely to make smarter choices.

7. Satisfy the craving. If you deprive yourself of something you love, you’re more likely to binge later. Instead, give into it. Eat the thing you want but only in moderation. Or try swapping your cravings for healthier options like replacing soda for ice tea or swap candy for a granola bar.

Ultimately, the more eating right feels like work, the less likely you are to stick with it. So set small goals that you can easily reach, don’t deprive yourself of the food you really want, and realize that whatever you’re doing is better than doing nothing. Good luck and Happy New Year!