… Cooking on a Budget:Meal Prep for the Month…

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When it comes to eating healthy you do NOT have to break your budget. I have managed to budget my grocery bill to make sure that I have enough food to keep me on track with my health and fitness goals.

Each month I will try to vary my menu so I am not eating the same things over and over again.  You have to find affordable ways to stay creative BUT also keep you from going outside of the foods that will keep me on track with my health goals.

For my meal prep, I typically pick one day and set aside a few hours to cook as much food as I can in the time that I have.  I live a busy lifestyle.  Any chance I have to cook food I will! The plus side to this is that you can freeze anything that you cook and it will last you for weeks!

One thing that I like to do is do a quick browse of the local grocery stores weekly ads.  I do not classify myself as an extreme couponer.  But, I do consider myself an opportunist to take advantage of any deal that I am able find.  Wal-Mart AND Target have a policy to match the price of any competitors within 90 miles (click on HERE or HERE to read their policy).  This is good because this allows you to price match fruit, meats, veggies, and other foods.  THERE IS ALWAYS A SALE ON THESE ITEMS! You just have to look! Seriously, I do not spend hours doing this.  It really takes me about 15-30 minutes. I will make a grocery list and skim through the local ads to see which items on my list are on sale.  I will always book mark the ad on my phone or print it off to take with me to the store.  Like I said, It takes some planning and very little time.

I will always look at local grocery stores or markets to see what deals that they are having. In Norther Missouri there are stores such as Prenger, Shop-Ko, Country Mart, Safeway, Dahl’s, Fareway Supermarket, Schnucks, Shop-N-Save, Hy-Vee, and many others.  These are the main stores that I look at (in Columbia, Missouri there is also Patricia’s, Moser’s, Gerbes, and a few others).

Here is quick example of that my daily menu will look like: (***NOTE this menu varies! This is just an in general example of what I would eat.  I do not usually eat all of the same things each day. This was something I created to help give you an idea of how I make my grocery list)

Breakfast:

  • protein pancakes (Recipe can be found HERE) or some other source of protein (eggs, meat, etc)
  • Oatmeal
  • Berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.)

Snack

  • Protein bar or protein shake (or another source of protein)
  • Rice cake
  • Peanut butter

Lunch

  • Chicken (or turkey)
  • steamed veggies (or salad)
  • rice or sweet potato (or whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortilla/pita, or small serving or whole wheat pasta)

Snack

  • Protein bar or protein shake (or another source of protein)
  • berries/small fruit (another small source of carbs)

Dinner

  • Chicken (or turkey) (or another source of protein)
  • steamed veggies (or salad)
  • rice or sweet potato (or whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortilla/pita, or small serving or whole wheat pasta)

After I create my menu I will then create my shopping list. So here is an example of my shopping list for the month of March:

  • Three packs of raw chicken breast
  • Two packs of lean turkey patties
  • Two packs of lean turkey tenderloin
  • Old fashion oats
  • Green spinach leaves (salad)
  • Uncle Ben’s brown rice
  • Quaker Rice Cakes
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Blueberries and/or Strawberries
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Green Giant frozen vegetables
  • Egg whites
  • Sweet potatoes

Total Cost of the above grocery list = ABOUT $100.00… Here is how I did that…

Here is a breakdown of the prices associated with my shopping list:

  • Price matched chicken breast: $0.99/lb = Total price = $15.00 (15 lbs of chicken)
  • chicken
  • Berries = $0.99 a canister = Total Price = $2.00
  • Turkey Patties and tenderloin = $3.00 a package = Total Price = $12.00
    • *** NOTE: When I find a GOOD sale on items like turkey I will purchase more than I need and freeze them! These kind of things are not on sale often.  I did purchase a deep freezer and stock up on things like turkey when I get them on sale!! You can also find them on sale at Sam’s club and Costco.  I have found some great deals there on meat.
  • Old Fashion Oats = $2.48 = Total Cost = $2.48
    • ***Note I do not find these on sale often.  But, a whole tub will last me LONGER than a month.  I eat 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of oats with breakfast so I do not use a lot of it.

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  • Vegetables = These prices will vary depending on the season. I also try to use the local farmers market which also cuts back TREMENDOUSLY on my fresh produce bill.  I can get a huge bag of lettuce for a few dollars.  But typically I can get a back for $1.50-$2.00.  Total Cost = $1.50
    • Some items I will get once a week or when I run out. Fresh items do not last the full month so those are things I will still budget for but will not get them all at once.

Salad

  • Uncle Ben’s Rice = $1.98 = Total Cost = $1.98
    • This box will last me a LONG time.  I will make a nice size pot of rice and it will last me for a week or so.  It just depends on how much I decide to have with my meals. These you can also find on sale but it is not very often.  So, if you do find it on sale grab a few boxes!

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  • Frozen Vegetables vs Fresh Vegetables = Total Cost = $16.00 (enough for a few weeks worth of meals)
    • I typically will get frozen veggies.  They last longer, can be cheaper (depending on the time of year), and take less time when doing meal prep. I will just open up a pack of frozen veggies and separate 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup of veggies into my Tupperware with my meal.
    • Some sales I will take advantage of. Like with meat, sometimes there is a GOOD deal on veggies and I will get enough for the month.  Typically you can can the small box of steamers for about $1.00 a box/bag.  That is when I usually stock up.  If not, I will get the bigger bags (which can also be a good deal) and those will separate out to be about two-three meals per bag.

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Extra Information:

If I see other items that I like and are on sale I will get them.  This is usually more of an impulse if this is fruit and veggies.  I do not stock up and hoard products.  Like I said, I will get enough to last me the month or possibly the next month.

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The things that I will usually buy several units of (when I find them on sale) are things like rice cakes, rice, ingredients to make future recipes for meals (like chili or casserole), oatmeal, protein bars, and meat.

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Peanut Butter is another great item you can also sometimes find on sale.  I find it best when it is on sale for $2.50 each (or typically 2 for $5).  I will usually stock up on peanut butter (purchasing 4 jars) when I do find it on sale.

 

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Like I said, it is very do-able to keep your budget to a minimum when trying to do your monthly shopping.  Yes it may take you a second to sit down and actually plan things out BUT it will save you money in the end.  I will go to the store when I need more fresh produce.  Other than that, I will try not to go because of the temptation to impulse shop. If I find a recipe that I want to cook, I will again create my list and try to price match to help save me money.

Last year I sat down and calculated how much money I saved via price matching…I saved OVER $400 by just planning out my meals and matching prices.  Every cent that you save adds up! What would you do with an extra $400 in your pocket?

Here is another good thing to invest in…a good set of Tupperware!

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When I cook all of my food the next key step is separating out the correct portions.

I will use two different methods: Tupperware and zip lock baggies (those are easier to travel with. They take up less space in my cooker and I can just throw them away rather than having to hold on to them while traveling).

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Depending on your dietary needs you will need to determine how much you should portion out into your containers.  It is typically 4-6 oz of protein, one serving of carbs, and one-two servings of vegetables.  You have to determine how much you need to eat to help you reach your fitness goals.  The key is to make sure that you are eating enough to keep you feeling satisfied and refueled to get you through your day (and your workouts).

Accomplishing this can take sort of planning. Do not over think this, set some time and slowly work on it.   If you sit down and take a few minutes this will come more natural and will still save you some money and allow you to stay on track with your healthy eating and your fitness goals.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask! I would love to help guide you in any way. For those who need more guidance I also offer distance/online training. Feel free to email me for more details: infinitelifefitness@gmail.com






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…Wonderful Health Benefits of Red Wine…

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When you read the words alcoholic beverage, what usually pops in your head? For most people, these drinks already have a negative perception. They think that nothing good will come out from drinking these “vile things.” However, what they do not know is that some beverages can be healthy and beneficial, even if they have alcoholic content.

One of which is a bottle of red wine. Aside from being a great complementary drink to a lot of dishes, this liquor can strengthen your heart and prevent you from incurring fatal diseases. In addition, it can actually help you lose weight when properly added to your diet. If these reasons aren’t enough to change your mind, check out the short post below and discover the wonderful benefits of drinking red wine.

  1. Reduces your Cholesterol Levels

Liquors that are mad from Tempranillo red grapes can significantly reduce the cholesterol count in your body. That is because this special fruit is high in fiber.

  1. Beneficial for Your Heart

This alcoholic drink is packed with resveratrol – a very powerful antioxidant. This substance can defend your arteries from the bad side effects of saturated fat. By just drinking one or two glasses on a daily basis, you will be able to maintain a healthy heart and veer away from any cardiovascular problems.

In addition, red wine is also rich in flavonoids and sapponins that can add further protection to your cardiovascular system. It can increase the production of good cholesterol in the body, and it will prevent any blood clots from occurring. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t depend entirely on red wine. Of course, exercise and proper diet is still important if you want to be fit and strong.

  1. Regulates Blood Sugar

Wines that are made from the skin of red grapes are beneficial for people who are suffering from diabetes. These fruits have a rich amount of resveratrol that is effective at regulating blood sugar. Red wine can also promote insulin secretion.

  1. Brain Booster

Aside from keeping the heart healthy, the resveratrol found in red wine can also maintain the sharpness of your brain. It can reduce the production of beta-amyloid – a type of protein that can cause Alzheimer’s disease. In order to retain your good memory, it is highly recommended that you play puzzles or other brain games for at least one hour, and then sip a glass of red wine afterwards.

Can you share other fun facts about red wine? If so, visit the discussion in the comments section!






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…Guest Post: Women Who Workout: What You Need in Your Gym Bag…

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People who build muscle and shed pounds at the gym grow accustomed to being flexible with workouts and adjusting their routines.  When you workout you get stronger, feel better, and can get to enjoy a slimmer waist and smaller dress sizes. Bringing the right items along to the can make all the difference when it comes to developing and sticking to a good routine.

Folding Cup

Great for work, vacations, and whenever in need of a clean receptacle to hold water, folding cups fit conveniently in any gym bag and enable goers to avoid drinking straight from fountains.  Whether germ-a-phobic or just precautious, those who have a folding cup catch a fresh drink of water whenever without worrying about germs, lack of supplied cups, etc.

Hit List

Music is powerful enough to remind listeners of the past, motivate sports competitors to win, and drive gym goers to work harder at shedding pounds and improving muscle tone.  Generations of the past dealt with clunky Walk-Man cassette players.  Today, mini iPods and other sound devices hold thousands of songs and provide hours of listening enjoyment.  However, it’s annoying to choose tracks suitable for working out while at the gym.  A premeditated hit list ensures each workout is accompanied by a motivating rhythm and beat.

Cleaning Cloths

When you workout you look and feel sexier, but you may feel a bit stinky and sweaty immediately afterward.  Cleaning cloths are handy for ridding your skin of lingering sweat residue and any odors, so whether you need to collect the kids at school, return to work, or prepare for a business meeting, you won’t have to be nervous about offensive odors or perspiration.  If you are allergy prone, you may want to avoid cleaning products that contain alcohol or certain other chemicals.

Energy Snack

In time, working out invigorates the body and provides gym goers with added energy, but it’s common to feel tired after spending time burning calories and breaking down muscle.  A quick energy-filled snack, such as a shake, bar, or sandwich, replenishes the body, reenergizes and rebuilds muscle.  Speak with trainers, conduct online research, or find snacks offered at gym stores and front desk stations.  Check the calorie count despite ‘healthy’ ingredients.  For example, granola is a healthy snack but rich in calories.

Small Mirror

Most gym interiors have walls of mirrors so you view your form and the forms of other members.  However, these mirrors may not be the best for checking for food between teeth, hairs out of place or smudged makeup.  A small mirror fits nicely into a small bag and provides added assurance that you look their your best while working on a better body.  Get more information about body improvement and alteration at KRPlasticSurgery.com.

Those who find time for the gym aside from work, children, spouses, and a social life improve their lives.  However, those who take the time to bring along a few handy items have found a better routine.

Dr. Kevin Ruhge is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, he hopes to help people live better lives by sharing his insights and experiences online.






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… RUN FOREST…RUN!…

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In 2015 what is it that you want to accomplish?

C’mon…think realistically.

Yes, everyone wants to do the cliche “Lose weight”… “Eat healthy”…”Be more active”. Those are all great goals! But…I challenge you to be more specific.

I am not saying that you have to run a marathon.  Or complete a Tough Mudder.  But, what is it that you REALLY want to do?

I saw this question on a friends facebook status and it evoked a lot of thoughts and questions that I started to ask myself. In 2014 I accomplished every physical goal that I set for myself.  So now what do I strive for in 2015?

Losing weight

This is always a sensitive subject for me and for the clients that I work with. I try to challenge all of my clients to STOP weighing themselves.  YES STOP IT! So many people let the numbers on the scale define who they are or the type of progress they are making.  The number on the scale is NOT a true indication of your success.  There are so many other things that you can monitor and track that are more beneficial and more accurate.  Things like the inches you are losing around your waist…or your body fat percentage.  We have to recondition our minds to think of other variables as valuable tools to help us track our progress.

Setting realistic goals

I challenge all of my clients to find something to work towards.  Something that is not a number that can be traced by a scale.  Some people pick a local 5k, an obstacle race, or some other endurance event.  Some people pick things such as wanting to be able to lift a certain amount of weight, being able to jump a certain height, or being able to sustain a certain exercise for a length of time.  These are all great REALISTIC goals.  You have to find something that you want to do and something that you can continue to work towards.

Lifestyle change

Reaching your goals is about making a lifestyle change.  It is not about a 30….60….90 day challenge that you can accomplish and then go back to your old habits.  Working towards your goals should allow you to understand and adopt healthier habits that you can carry with you even after you create your goal.  These habits include things such as learning what types of meal options to pick from when you go out to eat, what types of food to purchase and keep around the house (especially when you have a sweet tooth), setting a routine that will allow you stay active.  You have to adopt a new lifestyle to reach your goals and to continue to move past them.  Nothing makes my heart cry unless I have a client that works so hard for a month or so and then they revert back to their old habits and lose all of the progress that they made.  Just because you reach your goals does not mean you stop.  KEEP GOING! Set new goals and keep crushing them! It is about consistency and moving forward.

Rewards

This is my FAVORITE part about setting goals.  Setting a reward to have when you reach those goals. Some people do not like the idea of rewarding your efforts to reach your goal. But, I do!  Why not allow yourself something you have wanted after you work 30…60…90 days towards a goal.  I actually use my fitness goals as a way to build towards my savings goal.  Each week I will also set aside a certain amount of money (you can read about it HERE).  Set aside money while you work towards your goals. When you reach your goals, you will have money to use towards your reward.  So it is a win-win situation!

Getting healthy and fit is not something that will happen over night.  You will have times where you will want to relax and not workout.  There will be days you will want to indulge in some food that is not apart of your healthy eating plan. The struggle will be to keep fighting on the days that you are wanting to give up.  The struggle will be sacrificing happy hour with your friends with time in the gym.  You do not have to give up everything but, you will have to find a balance.  Yes, YOU CAN DO IT!






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…Product Review: AvalancheProtien Bar…

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Over the past few months, I have been able to come across so many new and interesting protein bars. For those of us who have busy lifestyles, it is sometimes helpful to have quick and healthy snack and meal options to have handy to help keep us on track with our health and fitness goals.

Today I would like to talk about another protein bar that is on my favorite list.  I had the pleasure of getting to try these bars for a review to share with all of you. Avalanche protein bars is a delicious, natural and nutritious protein bar that can be enjoyed by you (or any member of your family).  Avalanche nut free protein bars contain healthy ingredients: rolled oats, toasted sunflower kernels, flax seed, dried fruit, whey protein, and honey.  These bars are classified as protein bars BUT they are without tree nuts or peanuts.  So this is a great bar for those who may have a nut allergy.

Overall Comments:

I was very surprised at the flavor of these bars.  I will not lie, when I first looked at these bars I did not have a lot of expectations.  They look like typical bars that “your friends make on a Saturday night when they were bored”.  But the flavor…is something I know that me nor my friends can imitate. Blueberry vanilla was by far my favorite bar from this company.  It was packed with amazing flavor.  Not too sweet and very filling. Cranberry Pineapple came in a close 2nd place, and Caramel Espresso was in 3rd place. All of the bars were delicious but the three that I listed were my top flavors.

The only negative thing I have to say about these bars is that they do not have as much protein as I would like.  The bars have about 10 g of protein and about 35+ g of carbs.  This is not terrible but I do with that there was more protein in these bars. There is about 10+ g of fat, which is not bad but still a little higher than I would like.  If you track your own macronutriens, you will have to make sure to account for these values when planning your meals for the day.

Quality for price:

You can purchase these bars for $2.50 a bar or $14 for a box  of 6 bars.  This price for the quality of protein bar is very comparable to other bars that are on the market.  Most bars that I regularly purchase range in price from $1.75 to $3.00.  This is a great price for the size (82g) protein bar.

Smell/Taste:

Like stated previously, the taste of these bars was pretty amazing.  It was full of flavor.  They did not leave a stale or undesirable after taste.  They were not overly sweet.  They provided enough flavor to leave you satisfied once you were done consuming the bar.

Ranking Scale: (on a scale from 1-5)

Price: 4.3

Overall Taste: 4.0

Quality for Price: 4.5

Overall Ranking: 4.3

If you are looking for a great bar to add to your health plan, this is a great option.  Great price, great taste, and well worth every penny you spend.  I would have to say I am a big fan of this bar and look forward to purchasing more!






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…Non-Fitness Challenge: 52 week Money saving challenge…

52weekSaveMoneyChallenge2014 for me was filled with trips to 9 different states, great memories with new friends, and a strict budget that allowed me to do all of those things.

When I decided I wanted to travel more extensively, I had to come up with a plan to ensure that I would be able to do all of the things that I wanted to do.  With a bulk of my trips being towards the end of the year it only made sense for me to start planning financially at the start of the years (this time of year to be exact).

I highly suggest something like this for those of you who always think or say “I just do not have enough money to go on a trip”. Or…”I would really love to go to…”.  I feel that saving up for a trip is always the hardest part.  We get so caught up in the things that we have to pay for (such as bills and living essentials) that we forget to plan fun things to do outside of our normal routine. We also get caught up in the things that we want to buy (like shoes…clothes…etc.).  Creating a budget and sticking with it can allow you to still enjoy the things that you need and want.  It also lets you plan for things such as vacations.  You can even create this type of savings jar to save up for something big that you want (like a down payment for a new car or new TV for your home).  You have to create a plan! That is the key.

What I did was I got a BIG jar.  I found this big mason jar at a 2nd hand store for $5.  I then printed this following image that I found on the internet:

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And once I had these two items, I just started saving.  I would actually try to follow the chart BUT I would also put MORE money in the jar if I had it.  I would find that each week I would clean out my purse with the extra change and loose dollars that I had collected. Each week I would add the suggested amount and then cross it off of the list. To ensure that I did not get tempted to use this money (and to keep it out of sight just in case I had guest over) I placed the jar in the BACK of my closet.  Each week I would just reach in, open the lid, and drop the money in.  I would not even look to see how much was collected.

I knew that the bulk of my trips were at the end of the year so I tried to add extra earlier in this process because as the year progresses you are supposed to add more money each week.  Some weeks I was not able to add the full $50 or $40.  But, since I knew I had added an extra $10…$15 earlier in the year it offset the weeks that I was not able to put the full amount in.

Here is the end result of my savings jar…

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After only being able to save for 48 weeks, when I went to the bank to cash my jar in I was happily surprised to find $1,091 saved up.

I was able use this saved money to help pay for things while I was on my trips.  I was able to enjoy being in the new cities, eating good meals, visiting amazing monuments and just doing what I wanted without the worry of not being able to afford it.  I even had money left over after my trips that I was able to use some of the saved money for traveling home for Christmas and to use for Christmas gift.

Saving a little each week can yield a nice sum of money for you to use when you need it. It is never too late to start something like this! I have already started adding a new collection of coins and cash in my jar for big trips that I hope to have at the end of this year.

If you want to do something bad enough you will do what it takes to make it happen.  Even if it takes a little time, you can always accomplish and do ANYTHING that you want.  It just takes time, persistence, and patience!






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…5 Minute Squat Challenge…

I saw this challenge by one of my favorite fitness gurus CT Fletcher.

He challenged people to put some weight on…and just squat….for 5 minutes…. NON STOP!

TALK.ABAOUT.A.BURN!!!!

I of course wanted to do my squat challenge with a twist.  I added some weight to my ruck sack and started squatting. Let me tell you…when I was done, I had to sit down and relax for a few minutes before I could stand up again.  I felt a deep and throbbing burn minutes event after I was done with the squats.

Let me break it down for you…

SQUATS:

There are various ways to perform a squat.  You can do a front squat, regular back squat, sumo squat, pistol squat, siff squat, dumbbell squat, plate squat, goblet squats, squat jumps, any many more.

The benefits to squatting and produce chiseled and nicely sculpted legs and glutes (also known as your BUTT!).  When you squat (or lift weights in general) your body will release hormones that will aid in muscle growth. The hormones are then circulated through your body which can then lead to the building and development of other parts of your body.  So in an essence, squatting promotes a full body workout if done correctly.  Squatting can help to also promote core strength via strengthening your core and back. It can also help to improve your balance, along with various other benefits.

Squatting is a great exercise for you to incorporate into your weight lifting routine.  BUT BE CAUTIOUS! You would want to seek the guidance of a health care professional when attempting to do this.  You do not want to improperly do these exercises as it can result in injuries.

So this is what I challenge YOU to do.

Ruck up…and SQUAT! Squat steady, slow, and deep for 5 straight minutes.  See how well you are able to maintain your composure throughout this 5 minute exercise.  I would suggest doing this at the end of your scheduled leg day lifting routine.  Trust me…






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…Merchandise Evaluation: Candice Foods Energy Bars…

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I have had the amazing opportunity to try out a different kind of energy bar.  For those of you who know me, you know that I am somewhat of a energy bar/protein bar addict.  With my hectic lifestyle energy bars and protein bars are a perfect thing to pack and travel with you.  So when I am able to find some bars that taste amazing and provide the nutritional values that I am looking for they become a staple in my diet.

Candice Foods  is a company that provides a line of bars for those of us who enjoy 100% natural and healthy things to incorporate into your diet. Candice Foods Energy Bars are FREE OF GLUTEN, DAIRY, ALL NUTS, PEANUTS, CORN, SOY, EGG, CASEIN, are all natural and protein packed with energy boosting sunflower seed butter.

Overall Comments:

These bars are VERY yummy! They are pretty dense (due to the products used to make the bar).  It does not have the texture of a typical protein bar or “nut” bar.  It is a nice texture but just something that is different from what I am use too.

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Quality for Price:

The bars are about $3.20 per bar of you can save some money and buy a whole box of 12 bars for $27.00 (or get the variety pack box for $28.00).  Getting a box of bars will cost you about $2.25 per bar (a much better deal).

For the price of a box of bars, this is very comparable to other popular bars that you can find at the store or online.

So yes, for the quality of this product it is well worth the cost that they are offered.

Smell/Taste:

The aroma of these bars when you tear open the package is very enticing! They smell is very fruity and pleasant.  The Java bar (one of my favorites out of all of the bars that I tried) has a slight coffee smell.  I am not a huge coffee fan so I was slightly hesitant about trying that flavor.  But, as I bit into the bar it was clear that there was a plethora of other flavors swirling around in my mouth as I chewed.

Each bar that I tried was packed with that same amazing taste.  There was not one particular bar that tasted horrible.  They all were delicious and true to their flavors.

This is the type of bar that I would have after a workout, in between meals, or even as an addition to my breakfast (or another meal).  This bar can be eaten any time of the day and will satisfy that sweet tooth if you happen to have one. The bar is indeed filling and leave you feeling satisfied if using it as something to fill your stomach until you have your next meal.

Side Note: 

Their customer service was beyond amazing. Any questions that I had they were very prompt to reply to me.  I am HUGE on customer service and how a company treats their customers no matter what the circumstance may be.  So, it was very refreshing to have that happen.

So all in all, I would have to highly recommend this product to anyone who is looking for a good healthy alternative for energy bars. They have a handful of flavors to choose from, but all of the flavors taste AMAZING. So if you do buy one bar…or even a full box…you will NOT be disappointed.

Ranking Scale: (on a scale from 1-5)

Price: 4.0

Overall Taste: 4.0

Quality for Price: 4.5

Overall Ranking: 4.2






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…Guest Post: Supplements…

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For any competitive athlete, busting your ass in the gym, nailing your diet, and being consistent are the key components to achieving success on stage.

A lot of fitness ‘gurus’ like to throw around the number that “results are 30% gym, 70% diet’.

I kinda see where they’re coming from – to a degree. What we do in the gym, time wise, pales in comparison to the lifestyle we must lead. You can go balls to the wall for an hour in the gym, however if you’re under eating or over eating, not resting enough, or not consuming the right nutrients, then progress will come slowly, if at all.

I prefer to look at it in a different manner however.

You need to put in 100% into your workouts. 100% into your diet. When you’re doing this, you then need to look into what supplements can help you out.

There are a ton of sports nutrition & bodybuilding supplement brands in the market. Each making claims that their protein powder will help you gain muscle. Their pre workout will give you the best workout ever, and that their post workout shakes are essential if you want to make gains.

However if your diet and workout plan isn’t in check, then you’re wasting your time when it comes to supplements. Providing that you are nailing the basics, then supplements can help your performance in the gym, lead to greater gains, and make life more convenient.

My supplement usage does differ year round, from pre contest phase to ‘off season’. However today I’d like to share 3 supplements that any competitor can benefit from, any time of the year. Male, female, bodybuilder or physique competitor – these following supplements are must have’s in my opinion.

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Protein Supplements

Im about to make a bold statement. So bold, that I even had to emphasise the the bold in a bold font.

almost consider protein powder as a food source. Almost.

A quality whey Protein for example contains a full amino acid profile. When we consume any protein source, or any food for that matter, our body digests it. The protein is broken down into amino acids and shuttled around the body to be used as needed.

Using a whey protein powder is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Easy to digest
  • Fast absorbing
  • Enhances Immune function
  • Convenient To Drink

While new evidence has debunked the post workout anabolic window, consuming regular amounts of protein is important for protein synthesis and making optimal progress.

My protein supplements contain a whey protein powder for post workout, or upon waking if im doing cardio in the morning. However if im looking to use a protein powder as a meal replacement, i’ll opt for a protein blend containing micellar casein and whey protein.

I find that this blend supplies me with a more tapered release of protein, thanks to the slow digesting nature of casein protein.

A protein supplement is hugely useful for anyone looking to gain weight, and lacks the appetite to ‘eat big’. Consuming 200+ grams of protein over the course of the day can be quite an effort, on top of having to consume carbs and fats, so a protein shake is an easy solution to hit your necessary protein intake.

Protein shakes aren’t essential, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any fitness competitor or athlete without a bag of protein lying round their house.

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Carbohydrate Supplements

I am not a fan of low carb diets. In my NABBA bodybuilding journal, and in my condition update videos over on my youtube channel, i always get comments about my carb intake. People can’t believe how many carbs im able to eat and still lose weight.

When training twice a day, i always ensure that i take some kind of fast digesting carb such as maltodextrin, dextrose, or a blend post workout.

This allows my recovery to kick start, and my glycogen stores to replenish faster, ready for by second weight session later in the day.

It its a low carb day, i’ll limit my reliance on carb supplements, in favour of eating foods, as it makes me feel fuller.

However when ‘bulking’ or looking to gain lean muscle mass is when i find carbohydrate supplements particularly useful.

Consuming 400-500, or sometimes even more, grams of carbohydrates from whole foods isn’t easy.

In order to gain muscle mass however, a caloric surplus is crucial, and carbohydrates should make up the majority of your calorie intake. I usually have around 50-55% of my carbohydrate content from carbs.

As much as I enjoy a big bowl of porridge for breakfast, and eating often through out the day, hitting a big carb requirement from rice, potatoes etc isn’t easy.

One of the most simple ways to increase carb intake is through the use of a carbohydrate supplement. Dextrose, maltodextrin, vitargo, waxymaize starch, and countless others carb powders are all excellent choices to have during or post workout.

During a workout, they’ll keep glycogen stores topped up, meaning that the muscle has gas in the tank to keep exercising. Post workout, any of these fast acting carb powders will quickly replenish glycogen stores to aid in recovery.

Dextrose and maltrodextrin are the supplements i personally use, however there are a ton of different carb powders you can try for yourself.

Creatine

To non gym goers, this will be the most uncommon supplement on this list. Even those who have never stepped foot in a gym will have heard of protein shakes and carb powders, or meal replacement shakes. Creatine, probably not.

However within the fitness industry, everyone should know what creatine is. It is one of the most proven to work supplements on the market in study after study.

To summarise, creatine will enhance endurance during exercise, allowing to train longer, and perform more reps. It helps contribute to strength gains, along with aiding in lean muscle gain.

The most common type is creatine monohydrate powder. It doesn’t taste great. Likewise it isn’t disgusting. Just a little ‘powdery’. I take 10 grams a day, split into 2 x 5 gram doses, pre and post workout.

An old school of thought was that it was essential to supplement it pre and post workout, however, with more researching being carried out looking into the effects of creatine, I have came to the conclusion that timing isn’t hugely important.

I just like to take it pre and post workout, out of habit. I can mix it with my pre and post workout shakes, and mask the taste.

Over To You

Chances are, if you’re a competitive bodybuilder, physique athlete or participate in any kind of sport, you’ll already be using these supplements i’ve listed.

There is a reason that these supplements are so popular. They work. Simple as that. The beauty about these 3 supplements is that each one of them is also cheap.

There is nothing fancy about them. A whey protein concentrate, providing that it is 80%+ content, is the same across the board. Just double check the nutrition label if you’re unsure.

Carb powders and creatine monohydrate powder are homogeneous products. They are the same across the board. Don’t fall into the trap of believing false advertisement or marketing hype. If you’re looking for the cheapest prices you can always visit my protein discount codes website, http://cheapproteindiscountcodes.co.uk to find which supplier is offering the supplements for the cheapest prices.

Remember, if your training and nutrition isn’t on point, then don’t expect magic from using supplements. Even if your nutrition and workouts are nailed down, you still shouldn’t expect magic from supplements. Just think of them as one small piece of a larger puzzle. When everything is in place, you’ll start to see the most optimum results.

I hope this post has given you a little bit of insight, and will help you hit your fitness goals. If you disagree with any of the supplements i’ve listed here, please sound off in the comments section below.

You can follow me at my bodybuilding blog http://www.shreddybrek.com my supplement review & discount code site http://cheapproteindiscountcodes.co.uk or on social media http://www.facebook.com/shreddybreklol http://www.twitter.com/shreddybrekgym

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…Fitness: One Step At a Time…

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The first step to reaching your goals is acknowledging that there needs to be a change. You need to realize that your current habits and life style are not healthy for you (and possibly not healthy for your family). Why do you want to get more active? Why do you want to lose additional weight? Your answer to those questions should be to improve your overall lifestyle.  Investing in your health NOW can help you to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle when you are older.  People who remain active at an older age tend to have less health problems and remain mobile for longer than most elderly people.

Start one step at a time:

The best way is to slowly start to incorporate healthy habits into your life.  For example try to add things week by week…or bi-weekly.  For the next two weeks try to drink more water….cook your own lunch instead of ordering fast food…walking or biking to work instead of driving…taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  Then you can add more things (and you can also possibly include a friend or get your family involved!) Try to walk for a certain amount of time when you get home in the evening. Do a workout routine while you watch your favorite shows (and take a water break when the commercials come on).  Getting into a routine can be easy if you incorporate healthy activities with your current routine!

No Gym? No Problem:

You do not have to be a member of a gym to start working towards your goals.  You can find numerous at home workouts that can be done.  You can use common house hold items as weights (such as gallon water jugs, filling backpacks with rocks or sand, stairs, etc.).  People are unaware of all of the resources that they already have at home that they do not have to go and purchase!

Eating is the main battle:

Get your eating habits on track and the inches and weight will start to melt away!! It is amazing how many people are eating improperly! And truthfully, a lot of people are not eating ENOUGH food! YES YOU NEED FOOD to fuel your body and to help you shed that extra weight. If you are not eating enough it can hinder or halt weight loss. Try to eat more protein and balance your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.

In reality it will take 6-8 weeks before you can start to see results.  So the other key to success is to stay persistent and BE PATIENT! It will take time!!! Find things that will keep you motivated.  Try to find mini goals to obtain throughout your whole journey. The more fun you have with your journey the less stressful it will be!






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