Protein Powder 101

I used to think that protein powders were meant for body builders or those trying to bulk. I didn’t think I really needed one since my goal is to gain lean muscle and improve my cardiovascular fitness. However, when I started to track my protein intake per day, I realized that I was not getting enough protein. How much protein is enough? Well that can probably be its own separate post, but I like to go by 1 gram of protein per lb of lean body mass as a daily guide.

The first time I walked into the nutrition shop, I felt completely overwhelmed! The stacks of massive cases of powders, supplements, bars and products was a lot to take in. I had no idea where to begin. There are a lot of different powders out there, so I decided to go back home and do some research first. Here is a quick explanation of the different types of protein powders:

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Working during mealtime hours? How to stay on track with Nutrition

Working in the service industry or in any job that requires you to work through mealtime hours without a real “lunch break” can make it really difficult to eat healthy. Your running around like crazy from from 4pm-11pm and surrounded by delicious food the entire time. Ugh. When blood sugar levels start to drop, its really tempting to drink soda or to eat the mozzarella sticks that were ordered by accident. However, snacking mindlessly throughout the shift does not really even satisfy you, and those calories add up. Then by the time the shift is over, your will be craving a carb-heavy meal and devour about anything.

So between a few sodas, mozzarella sticks, a couple soup samples and your actual meal, thats could be around 1200-1600 calories consumed. This seems nuts because you spent most of the night feeling hungry. Yikes!

So how do you work around this? I have worked in the service industry for 3 years and learning to eat healthy during work has definitely been a learning process. Here are five ways to help you stay on track:

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Tame that sweet tooth with these healthy treats

I don’t track my food on the reg, but I will from time to time to make sure I am on track with my nutrition. The first time I tracked my food using myfitnesspal, I was shocked at how much extra sugar I was eating. I don’t add a ton of sugar to things and I avoid processed foods, so I thought I was good. However, when you take a closer look, you realize that there is hidden sugar in almost everything. From yogurt to condiments, sugar is literally everywhere! You also have to account for natural sugar found in fruits. Although natural sugar is much better than the processed stuff, it’s still sugar. The USDA just recently updated the recommendation for sugar intake and it does not allow for much. See below:
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How I trained for my first Obstacle Course Race

Last weekend I completed a Reebok Spartan Sprint in Charlotte, NC. There are three different types of spartan races. The Sprint is 3-5 miles in length and has 20-24 obstacles throughout the course. The Super is 9-11 miles with 25-28 obstacles and the Beast is 12+ miles and 30+ obstacles. Since this was my first obstacles course race and I am not much of an endurance runner, I stuck with the sprint. For this post, I am going to focus on what I did to train for the race. My race experiences and tips for race day will come later 🙂

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Meals for Prep: Spaghetti Squash, Chicken and Veg

Have you ever had spaghetti squash before? If not, you need to try it! Its a delicious and healthy alternative to pasta. The consistency is similar to rice noodles and it pairs well with anything you would cook with pasta.

I just started meal prepping at the beginning of the year and I have noticed that it makes a big difference in my eating patterns throughout the week. Not only do I save time, but I make healthy choices more consistently. I use my prepped meals as a quick “go-to” instead of stopping for take out or just snacking on random stuff until Im full. This week, my bf and I made a layered spaghetti squash. Its super easy and quite tasty. Here are the simple steps:

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Weekly Workouts + Happy St Patty’s Day

Happy St. Patricks Day! I remembered it was St. Patricks day this morning as I was getting ready. I don’t ever do anything to celebrate, but I figured I would at least change out of my all-black outfit and put something green on.

Over the weekend, my boyfriend Shan and I went to our first Charlotte Hornets basketball game. The basketball game fell on the same night as  Charlotte’s St. Patricks Day Pub crawl…and holy cow! We did not know what we were walking into. The pub crawl was huge and there were people everywhere (apparently 20,000 people participated). By the time we got uptown, the crawl had been going strong for a couple of hours. So everyone had a dazed look in their eye. It did look like fun, but I was happy that we were heading to the basketball game. The hornets played great, beating the Houston Rockets 125-109.

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Snack on something different

For the longest time, I was creature of habit when it came to snacking. Constantly reaching for yogurt + granola or hummus + pretzel chips. Now don’t get me wrong, I will still always have these items on hand. However, I have gotten a lot more creative with my snack options lately. I love it when I can look forward to a snack and really enjoy it rather than just munch away mindlessly. I am the type of person who always has a few snacks handy. I think healthy snacking is a good way to keep energy up throughout the day and avoid extreme hunger come meal time. Here are a couple of my current go-to’s in the snack department:

1. Sweet Potato Bowls

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These are absolutely delicious, nutritious and filling. They are a great breakfast option as well. All you do is roast a sweet potato at 425 degrees for 45-60 minutes (depending on the size of the sweet potato). Then simply mash it up, add a bit of ghee and then get creative with toppings. I like to top it off with almond butter, chia seeds and raisins. I have also played around with coconut flakes, sunflower seeds and flax seeds. I know it seems a bid odd, but trust me on this one. Its real good!

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Yoga, Art & a Live DJ…Sign me up!

There is definitely not a lack of yoga studios and events in Charlotte. I have absolutely loved trying new studios and going to different events since moving here last summer. I have been hopping around taking advantage of new student specials in order to find the perfect studio (annd to save some $$). The yoga presence in Charlotte is great and it has given me something to get involved in. I have also made some friends in the process, which has made Charlotte start to feel like home.

Last night I went to NC Yoga Bars “Balance to the Beat” event. NC Yoga bar is a “pop-up”studio in Charlotte. They hold classes at galleries, breweries, apartment complexes and for private parties. The vibe is really friendly and inviting, without any kind of studio intimidation. The event was held at the Advent Coworking Art Gallery. I got there early to have a look around and there were a ton of cool/unique pieces to check out before class.

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Macros, Macros, Macros!

If you are serious about seeing results from exercise, then you must pay attention to your macronutrients. Many people think that because they workout, they can eat whatever they want. Or that weight loss will happen by restricting calories without paying attention to specific nutrients. So wrong! The breakdown of substrates is so important in order to achieve your fitness goals. There are 6 nutrients that the body needs to function: carbohydrates, fats, protein, water, vitamins and minerals. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, protein and water. Vitamins and minerals are the micronutrients.

The American College of Sports medicine recommends the following macronutrient breakdown for a balanced diet: 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-35% of calories from fats and 10-35% of calories from proteins. Note that this is a general recommendation and your macronutrient breakdown will be individualized based on your body composition, activity level, exercise training and your goals. So where to start? Follow these steps to get an idea of how to breakdown YOUR macros to get the results you want!

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Finding the Perfect Exercise Intensity for You

Exercise intensity is the most influential aspect of a workout. It impacts how many calories are burned, how much blood is delivered to muscles, the amount of CO2 removed and what the body uses as its primary fuel source. All that basically means is that the body responds and adapts to the demands placed upon it during exercise.Its important to understand what exercise intensity matches your goals in order to see the results you want. Whether burning fat, strengthening the cardiovascular system or increasing performance is the goal, there is an appropriate intensity to match each.

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Now lets back up and spell everything out.

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