So a couple of weeks ago I posted a smoothie that I proclaimed to be the World’s Greatest Smoothie. Obviously that was a little bit of hyperbole, but it is a truly delicious, healthy and convenient smoothie.
This week I am posting another absolutely amazing smoothie certain to satisfy any chocoholic’s desire. While I love vanilla protein powder as I find it much more versatile for smoothies and such, some people just have a love affair with chocolate that can not be satisfied with mere vanilla (like my mom and my wife for example).
In honor of that, here is what I concocted. Not only is it approved by me (I like almost everything I make, so I am a little biased) but it was given a sign of approval by my more discerning wife. It is pretty much the greatest flavor combination possible, like liquid Reese’s. So without further ado:
Chocolate Peanut Butter & Banana
~6oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or hemp for those allergic to nuts)
1 scoop chocolate whey protein
1 tbsp milled flax
1 tbsp 100% cacao dark chocolate nibs
1 tbsp natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
ice cubes if desired
I am actually drinking this as I type this blog, using it as my pre-training smoothie and it really fits the bill. Again, just like the previous smoothie it isn’t designed to maximize calorie intake and pack on as much mass as possible, but if you are looking for a delicious, healthy and calorically reasonable smoothie, I would highly recommend it.
I also want to make note that Precision Nutrition is running an awesome sale on their comprehensive nutrition system, Precision Nutrition 3. It includes an all-access membership to their private Member Zone, plus a 1-year subscription to their Results Tracker program, along with free shipping, for only $99. If you are interested check it out HERE.
Recently at CP Tony has been eating sweet potato almost every day. He mixes it with some ginger and a ton of veggies and chicken and it looks and smells awesome (except for that one time when he put in a ton of ginger and you could smell it from 10 feet away). As embarrassing as it is to say, I don’t think I had ever eaten a sweet potato in my life (not counting sweet potato fries)!
Sweet potatoes are an incredibly healthy food. Oddly enough they aren’t actually related to the regular potato at all. They are high in fiber, vitamin A, potassium and a little calcium to boot.They get their orange color from being high in beta-carotene, and they also contain loads of other phytochemicals like quercetin, chlorogenic acid and cryptoxanthin. So not only are they delicious, they pack a nutritional wallop!
One of best things about sweet potatoes is that you get to flavor them up with some other incredibly healthy foods. With a traditional potato people slap on butter, salt, and maybe some bacon bits and tons of cheese. Certainly not the world’s healthiest topping combo.
A sweet potato on the other hand can be dressed up very nicely without adding many additional calories. My wife and I on Saturday added a little pastured butter, a good amount of cinnamon and a touch of ginger, and it was to die for.
The pastured butter contains good amounts of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K (especially K2-MK4, which is very important for proper bone health) as well as some cancer fighting conjugated linolenic acid and heart-healthy omega-3’s. Yes the butter also contains some saturated fat, but so what, it is not the enemy it is made out to be. One third of butter fat is monounsaturated, and pastured butter also contains lauric acid, an anti-microbial saturated fatty acid.
Cinnamon also has tons of health benefits that I blogged about it in more detail here. Finally, ginger. Ginger is well known to soothe an upset stomach, nausea and vomiting due to its gingerol content. Some studies in Denmark have shown that 75% of pregnant women who used ginger experienced relief from morning sickness without side effects. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties and may help with arthritis. It also may: inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells, lower total cholesterol, inhibit LDL oxidation (oxidized LDL is an independent marker for heart disease), and slow the development of atherosclerosis. This is some serious stuff.
So after a nice little training session on Saturday Anna and I had a delicious dinner of wild salmon, sweet potato and sautéed broccoli. It was absolutely fantastic.
This week I was able to catch up on a few blogs and articles and I came across some really top-notch stuff. I pretty much just love to read, whether it be about assessments, carb cycling, fat loss or dental health, if it is related to health I want to know about it. I know you guys are always looking for more good info, so here is my recent reading list. Enjoy.
1. All About Gluten – by Ryan Andrews from Precision Nutrition. Ryan is a really smart dude and his articles are always top-notch. Besides I am not a huge fan of wheat, I just think we eat too much of it, and Ryan lays down the law as to why gluten can be problematic. Whether you have celiac’s disease or not, do yourself a favor and find out what issues are associated with gluten sensitivity as you might be surprised what it is linked to.
1A. The At-Home Test For Gluten Sensitivity – by Bryan Walsh from Precision Nutrition. This ties in really well with the above article by Ryan. Bryan goes into even more detail about all the health implications if you are intolerant to gluten, its actually really scary stuff. Fortunately he also provides a few methods for at-home testing to check yourself. Knowledge truly is power.
2. Ever Wonder What New Food I’ve Been Eating…- by Tony Gentilcore. The actual title is much longer, maybe the longest blog title ever, but the article is fantastic. Tony and I talk about food and nutrition at work a lot. We are always looking for new ideas, things to change, and basically just finding ways to be healthier. In his uniquely entertaining way Tony covers some really good ground and mentions a few foods that I think I will start adding to my daily intake.
3. Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization, Part VI – by Stephan Guyenet. Stephan’s site (wholehealthsource.blogspot.com) is a fantastic resource and one of my favorite blogs. Since my wife is going to be a dentist soon, I find his series on malocclusion’s even more fascinating. The data linking them to vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 consumption as well as length of breast feeding and more is incredible. Stephan is one smart dude and someone who always provides the highest quality info.
4. Well there isn’t a four, but I just want EC to know that he is about to get demolished in fantasy football this week. I am riding a 5 game winning streak (should be 6, I got screwed by ESPN not letting me log in, but I digress) and am now the highest scoring team in the league. The defending champ is back baby!
One of the most commonly asked questions from clients is for sources of delicious, healthy and yet convenient recipes. This seems to be the hardest thing for people to figure out, and really it is just a matter of knowing where to look. Below are some resources that have helped me greatly along the way. These cookbooks are BSP approved not only for their delicious recipes, but also because they provide plenty of nutrition education along the way. Not a mere collection of recipes, but books full of tips, guidelines, little pearls of wisdom to help transform your eating habits and vastly improve your health and physique. So without further ado, here are my top five favorite cookbooks.
1. Gourmet Nutrition 2.0 by Dr. John Berardi. This is my top-of-the-line go to resource for high quality and amazing tasting recipes. This beautifully photographed cookbook provides nutritional information for every recipe, for large and a small serving sizes. This alone puts this book high atop my list. Knowing what you are taking in really goes a long way to help you meet your goals. Sometimes people are surprised by the calories of a meal, so seeing them on paper really is highly beneficial. This book also provides estimated preparation and cooking times, whether a meal is considered an anytime meal (i.e. lower carb) or a post workout meal (i.e. higher carb), which is how I like the set things up with most people as well. I use more recipes from this cookbook than any other.
2.The Healthiest Meals on Earth by Dr. Jonny Bowden. This incredible cookbook is based on the concept of the poly meal. The poly meal includes high quality protein and healthy fat source (usually salmon), fruits and vegetables, red wine, and dark chocolate, which if consumed on a regular basis will greatly reduce risk of many many health conditions, especially heart disease. In his book Dr. Bowden has created some amazing amazing, gourmet five course meals that follow these guidelines. They are amazing. It also provides many smaller and much more convenient recipes that are still incredibly healthy. Unfortunately this book does not contain the nutrition info break down. That is the only flaw of this incredible and amazingly healthy cookbook, which is offset by the fact that it does provide the most unique recipes of them all.
3. Body By Eats by Leigh Peele. This book is probably the least cookbook like of them all. Leigh provides tons of great nutrition content, dispelling myths and generally just supplying people with the information they need to reach their goals. Along with all of this great info are some absolutely awesome recipes designed with your goals in mind. Fat loss recipes, muscle building recipes, vegetarian recipes, you name, Leigh put it in there. This cookbook is full of awesome stuff that is sure to help anyone reach their goals.
4.Gourmet Nutrition the original by Dr. John Berardi. This is the original cookbook by Dr. John Berard, providing tons of great recipes that are highly nutritious, highly convenient, tasty and also provide nutrition information for every recipe for large and small serving sizes. This cookbook is in black-and-white, but it is still of very high quality and is highly recommended. Dr. Berardi might modify a few recipes today with what he knows now, but the overwhelming majority of them still stand beautifully on their own. I still refer to it quite often, and it was the first nutrition cookbook I ever owned.
5. BSP recipes! No list of mine would be complete without me referencing a few of my favorite recipes. Here are some links to some of the favorite recipes I’ve posted on this site.
Ok, so the title might be a little bit of hyperbole/subject to personal opinion, but this past week I came up with this delicious new smoothie that I have been having before I train. As you guys probably know, I am making a conscious effort to eat less dairy, with my only source being a 16oz Greek yogurt per day.
This has made my choice of smoothies more limited as I no longer personally use cottage cheese as my base. I do want to say that I don’t think some cottage cheese consumption here and there is a problem, it is just something I am trying, at least for a while.
This is a pre-training smoothie, consumed about 1.5 hours before I train, so it isn’t too large either. Without further ado:
Apple Cinnamon with a Hint of Vanilla
1 gala apple, cored and sliced
~6oz unsweetened vanilla or original almond (or hemp) milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp milled flax seed
2 tbsp almonds and pecans
cinnamon to taste
Blend it all together and enjoy!
Like I said, I use it pre-training, but it is an any-time snack. If you a guy looking to pack on some serious size, this probably isn’t the smoothie for you, I have tons of other recipes for that situation. If you are someone looking to get or stay lean, or eating to optimize your health, this is a perfect and delicious option.
Missing the forest for the trees might be a sentence that I use the most with clients. Here is one simple fact that if you can truly come to accept will make a bigger impact on your goals, whatever they may be, than just about anything else. Ready?
You are not as advanced as you think you are.
That is it. You don’t need to be doing a specialized hybrid Russian periodization program with some added dynamic effort work and 3x per week sprint sessions. Trust me. The same goes for nutrition. The last thing you need to worry about is what kind of salsa you are using, I assure you if you haven’t reached your physique goals that your salsa choice has little to do with it. It might be the fact that you slug down 60 grams of unnecessary sugar after you train, or that you eat Special K for breakfast. It is not the salsa, I promise.
Master the basics. If you can do that, and I mean truly do that, you will have the physique and health status to prove it. Eat real food. Eat more protein. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat more healthy fat. Eat less refined carbs. If you can do that CONSISTENTLY, then maybe, just maybe you can start to think about carb timing, macronutrient ratios, carb cycling, cyclical ketogenic, or whatever else it is you just read about on some website. You might find that after mastering the basics, you don’t have to.
Training is the same way. It takes years, and I really do mean years, to truly master the basic movements to the point where you need to worry about anything else. You probably don’t need to be doing max singles, or the innie-outie machine. If you can master the squat, deadlift, pullups, pressing, pulling and lunging you will be far better off than the guy doing 1-leg squats with his eyes closed while standing on an Airex pad, or the woman reading a magazine while doing 100 reps on the adductor/abductor machine. (sorry for the stereotypes, but I did once work in a commercial gym, just making a point)
Don't be this guy
When it comes to training though, there is a catch. Most people move horribly and do not even know it. Your posture dictates how well you can do most exercises, so if it sucks, so will your technique. If you can’t even get to neutral spine, if you have locked up hips and upper back mobility, or you lack ankle mobility all of those things could hugely, and negatively, affect your ability to train properly, train hard and train long-term because you will likely get hurt.
Foam rolling and a dynamic mobility warmup go a long way to help improve posture, mobility and flexibility. We employ both with all of our clients before they even begin to train. After the evaluation it is the first thing our clients learn about at CP. It is that important. However it can not possibly cover every person’s unique postural and mobility deficits.
Fortunately for you Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Bill Hartman have joined forces and created a new DVD (and manual) to help you identify and fix your postural, mobility, and flexibility issues. Assess & Correct is one of the best products that I have come across in the fitness industry. It was created by three of the smartest guys in the field at assessment and corrective exercise. It is chock full of user-friendly and top-notch info and strategies that we utilize at CP and Bill and Mike use at IFAST to efficiently and effectively get clients healthier and more fit. With video demonstrations and written descriptions of every exercise it doesn’t leave you guessing on proper technique and execution. The most amazing part of Assess & Correct is that once you complete the assessment portion it helps direct you to the exercises you will personally need to do to fix your problems, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. So if you are interested in getting better posture and staying health, check it out HERE.
In conclusion, realize that mastering the basics is the name of the game, and you are never too advanced to pull back and work on the fundamentals: Make better food choices, master the basic lifts, eat more fruits and vegetables, fix your posture, and do not worry about what salsa you are eating as I promise it is not making a significant impact on your goals.
Here is a neat video I came across the other day. It shows how making simply making exercise exciting and interesting makes people so much more likely to do it. You can see more videos like this at thefuntheory.com.
This morning thinking about what I wanted to blog I had a ton of different and completely unrelated thoughts running through my head. I decided that I would just write about all of them, and in honor of Tony Gentilcore I named the post Miscellaneous Monday. Enjoy!
1. Anna and I spent a quick weekend in Maine during Halloween, just spending time with our families. I of course checked out the local Hannaford to see what kind of food options were available since I hadn’t shopped there in years. I was shocked at some of the fantastic options, at such better prices than Connecticut (shocker I know, but seriously, so much cheaper). In the “Natural Food” section they had raw cheese, full fat Greek yogurt (which is usually available at natural food stores, but rarely in a traditional supermarket), all manner of almond and hemp milk, tons of sprouted grain products including breads, English muffins and wraps, quinoa and more. Needless to say I was very impressed with the selection.
So if you live in Maine, especially around the Lewiston-Auburn area you have no excuses when it comes to high quality food selection. Not only that but there are tons of small local farms for quality produce, meat and eggs in addition to many small natural food stores (like Axis Natural Foods in Auburn). Maine is a healthy eater’s dream.
2. Speaking of almond milk, I just tried it for the first time a few weeks ago, and I must say I was very impressed. After some more reading on problems with dairy, I am cutting my consumption down to Greek yogurt and whey protein, with the very occasional cottage cheese snack (I plan on writing a large article about the topic, just have to find the time). I haven’t drank much milk in a long time anyway, but I was looking for a healthier alternative. Soy milk was definitely out of the picture because it sucks, rice milk tends to be quite high in carbs and sugar for my taste, so I thought I would give almond milk a try. I bought Pacific Natural Foods organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and even by itself it was quite good.
Like I noted in a recent blog, I have been experimenting with a small protein shake before I train. Instead of water I have now been using 8oz of the almond milk, with 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, cinnamon to taste and a banana, or I blend the milk, protein and cinnamon with an apple. It is absolutely awesome and helps to keep my energy levels up while I train. I highly recommend you give it a try.
3. For a completely random occurrence yesterday Anna and I were doing our usual Sunday grocery shopping. I was grabbing some eggs when I hear Anna start to talk to someone behind me. I turn around to see her talking to our friend Cassandra Forsythe. Talk about random! Cass works at a gym not too unlike CP just down the street, but still what are the chances? We chatted for a minute, of course talked about some nutrition stuff, about her pregnancy and just life in general. So this isn’t so much an important comment, just an interesting one.
4. Use your lazy Sunday to prepare yourself for the week. I know it has been written about ad nauseam, but it really can make a huge difference in your food consumption for the week. Last night Anna and I made her chili recipe, cooked a family pack of chicken breast, and chopped our veggies. This makes our daily food prep so much more convenient and so much faster. Just do it.
5. If any of you are worried about the usual holiday weight gain, utilize tip #4 to control your food choices and intake. If that isn’t enough, don’t forget about Mike Roussell and Alwyn Cosgrove’s awesome Warp Speed Fat Loss 2.0. This product will help strip those holiday pounds off and more, and would be perfect to start as your New Year’s resolution because it works, plain and simple. Get it HERE.
Hey folks, sorry for the delay. My website has been having some technical difficulties (I know some of you weren’t able to even read the last post, I am working on it), my wife has been sick with the flu (she is better now) and life has just been crazy.
Anyway, before I get started I wanted to make a quick announcement. As many of you know I did the Warp Speed Fat Loss protocol back in January. I figured if I was recommending it to people, I might as well give it a shot myself! It worked great, I lost about 11lbs and was my fitness level was through the roof! A hardcore CP client did the program with me, and he lost about 12lbs, and saw his abs for the first time since we was 12!
Fortunately for us, Mike Roussell & Alwyn Cosgrove have spent the last year refining and improving this incredible system, and have released a new and improved version, Warp Speed Fat Loss 2.0. I got a sneak peek at it and I must say, it looks awesome! Next month that same CP client is going back at it again with this program before he heads off to Caribbean beach after the holidays. I am actually contemplating going through this hell again with him, I thought I never would, but the new program looks that good. Do yourself a favor, pick up a copy, or buy it for a loved one (buying presents early is a life-saver) and now you won’t have any excuse not to complete your New Year’s resolution. Get it HERE.
Vegetarianism Part 2
I wrote a monster blog post last week on my thoughts on vegetarians, please check out part 1 of that series HERE.
In Part 1 I outlined many (though not all) of the reasons that people choose to become vegetarians. How terrifying our food production has become, and the utterly inhumane treatment of the animals we consume. People then choose to no longer support this corrupt industry, and stick to only plant-based food choices. This may not seem like such a bad choice, but unfortunately many people do not educate themselves on how to meet all of their nutritional requirements after eliminating meat from their diet, as it does contain a few nutrients that are nearly impossible find to large enough quantities in the plant kingdom. So, does being a vegetarian ensure better health?
Not Real Food
It all depends on how much they educate themselves. In my opinion people can be vegetarians and be incredibly healthy, but it does take education and effort. How does a vegetarian get enough vitamin B-12, or enough iron in their diet? Many vegetarians would have no idea how to answer this question, and therein lies a problem. (to be fair most meat eaters have no idea where to get those nutrients either, but lucky for them, their meat contains both in abundant quantities)
Through my practice I have met many vegetarians, who range from some of the most nutritionally educated people I have ever had the pleasure of talking to, to young girls who read that becoming vegetarian will make them thin. Becoming a vegetarian requires more effort than most people realize. Subsisting on pasta and veggie burgers may in fact be vegetarian eating, but it is certainly far from the ideal model of health. There are just as many pitfalls, if not maybe more, in eating vegetarian, if only because the food selection is now more limited, so the margin of error is smaller.
To be a healthy vegetarian I urge you to ensure that nearly all of your food comes from more nutrient dense options. Choose grains that are provide tons of nutrition; things like quinoa, buckwheat and sprouted grains, especially since all of these provide complete proteins and plenty of micronutrition along with significantly less anti-nutrients. Eat plenty of seeds and nuts to get in healthy fats, fiber, and more protein. If you are trying to gain an appreciable amount of mass or are trying to maintain lean mass while losing weight and you want to up your protein intake you do have some good options. If you do still consume eggs and dairy obviously whey or egg protein is fine, if not you can go to something like hemp or sprouted rice protein. Your best bets in that regard are a new hemp protein that I am quite impressed with called Hemp Pro 70 by Manitoba Harvest, which is also very reasonably priced, or Sun Warrior Rice Protein, which is a little on the pricey side.
For those of you who do still eat dairy and eggs, obviously these can be great sources of protein, especially things like Greek yogurt and omega-3 eggs. Making good food choices is still the name of the game. To actually get that vitamin B-12 I was talking about earlier vegetarians either have to supplement or consume fermented foods like sauerkraut. For iron, the best sources are chick peas, spinach and beans. Obviously very doable, but how many people actually eat sauerkraut on a regular basis? Like I said, it takes education and effort.
In the end you can do anything as a vegetarian that you could do as an omnivore. It is no more or less healthy, and it has just as many pitfalls. The food industry markets to this demographic heavily, and created a plethora of crappy food that are sold as vegetarian approved fare. The same basic rule still applies, whether omnivore or vegetarian: Eat Real Food.
So just because you eat soy burgers and whole grains and avoid meat does not make you healthier than everyone else. Remember that just because you may choose to no longer eat meat does not make you inherently healthier. If more omnivores cared about where their meat came from, and chose to purchase their meat/dairy/eggs from grass-fed, pastured and humanely treated sources along with eating plenty of high quality plant food, I would make the argument that you can’t get much healthier than that, and it is certainly the equal of a high quality vegetarian diet.
In conclusion: care about where your food comes from, make conscientious choices about your food selections, consume foods that make you feel good physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and strive to be as healthy as you can be. That is a recipe for success whether you choose to eat meat or not.