Know Your Protein

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

A while back I wrote a post called The Truth Behind Protein Shakes. The reason for this post was that many athletes were still confused as to why they were guzzling a/1/uno protein shake daily but still not adding slabs of rock hard muscle and torching massive amounts of body insulation (fat is great at keeping heat in!).

If you did not read that that post I would encourage that you do so. As for right here, right now, I wanted to provide a quick, bullet point style overview about the main concepts behind protein and its role in a high performing body, the myths behind protein and its consumption, as well as make a few recommendations.

So let’s do this so the next time you find yourself puzzled as to why after downing a protein shake your biceps didn’t grow like Pop-Eye’s did on spinach, you’ll better understand why.

Is protein important?

–          Protein is important, and many times protein is thought of as the most important of all macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein, water).

–          While I would argue that all are equally important, protein definitely plays a key role in almost every bodily function including structure (muscle building anyone?!), muscle contraction, immune system function, hormone production, nutrient transport, energy and more. So ya, it’s important.

–          Without adequate protein available, the body will breakdown stored protein (again, muscles anyone?!) in order to complete the functions previously mentioned.

Will protein alone make my muscles HUGE and my stomach RIPPED?!!

–          NO!!! Protein alone will not make your muscles grow. You must apply a stimulus to the body (training) that breaks down the system and requires the body to adapt and grow stronger. Then, protein can be utilized to help repair and grow tissues, including muscle tissue.

–          NO!!! Protein alone will not incinerate fat. While protein is more metabolically active (it requires more calories to utilize protein vs carbs or fat), protein will only help you lose weight when you are in a caloric deficit. With that said, for many replacing processed carbs with protein (less pasta and more chicken for example) will help you consume less overall calorie as well as consume more high quality nutrients, which will aid in losing the midsection jiggle.

–          Protein is a nutrient, not a steroid. While it plays an important role in anabolism, protein will not provide you will slabs of rock hard muscle without the hard work…sorry bro!

–          Ladies, protein will not make you gain manly muscle and neither will training heavy or intensely! So eat some steak, crush some weight and get off the damn elliptical!

Where can I get protein?

–          There are many sources of protein which include animal based proteins (beef, chicken, etc.), fish based protein (salmon, haddock, tuna, etc.), dairy based proteins (milk, yogurt, whey, casein, etc.), egg based protein and vegetable based protein (tofu, soy, protein, etc.).

–          As you can see, there are many foods that contain protein, and also protein supplements such as protein powder.

When should I eat protein and how much should I eat?

–          Protein should be consumed with every feeding (meal, mini-meal, snack) and a good way to measure how much to consume is by using your hand. Click HERE for a guide and visual.

–          The old standby for how much total daily protein to consume is 1g per pound of bodyweight. A better guideline to follow is one that I first heard from Alan Aragon. Alan recommends consuming 1g of protein for every pound of your ideal weight. That means if you are a 150lb male looking to gain 20lbs, you should be consuming at least 170g of protein daily. If you are trying to go from 200lbs to 180lbs, it is recommended to consume 180g of protein daily. Whatever your target weight is in pounds, consume that many grams of protein daily.

There are so many protein powders. Which one is best?

–          Whey stands out as the most versatile protein powder.

–          Casein is another dairy based protein and digests slower than whey making it a decent option when you know you are not going to be eating for a little while (before bed, etc.).

–          For those who don’t tolerate dairy well, egg or vegetable derived protein powders can be used (pea protein, etc….stay away from soy!).

–          No matter the source, make sure that the protein powder is made from whole, natural sources and not loaded with hormones, processed sweeteners or other ingredients that you can’t pronounce. And stay away from weight gainers…just eat more whole food!

–          I like Biotrust Low Carb as it tastes great and is made from quality sources. Other good sources include Jay Robbs and if you don’t have the funds available, Dymatize All Natural Whey is a decent option.

What can I use protein powder for?

–          Protein shakes, DUH!…check out this Protein Shake Construction Guide (your welcome!).

–          Other than shakes, great ways to use protein powder include powering up oatmeal, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, putting it on popcorn, flavoring coffee, making homemade protein bars and more.

–          *Protein powder is a supplement and should be used as so. Think of protein powder as an additional (and sometimes more convenient) way to get your daily needs, not as the primary source!

So there you have it, a short, a simple overview of protein along with a few recommendations. This does not even scratch the surface of details surrounding protein, but hopefully you can see that protein is important, and alone is not going to give you the body of a Greek god or goddess!

Make sure you get enough high quality protein, continue to work hard and…just don’t get sucked into thinking protein is the end all when it comes to achieving results!

5 Ways to Help You Afford Healthy Food


By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

You make it to the grocery store, grab a cart and venture into the aisles. You are on a mission. A mission to obtain foods that will help you achieve your newly sparked health and fitness goals, and nothing is going to stop you.

As you make your way to the produce isle, you remember you coach (and the rest of the world) telling you that organic products are healthier…so that is what you are going to get.

But there is one problem; the organic veggies and fruit are twice as expensive as the conventional brands.

 

 

And it doesn’t stop there! The Greek yogurt is far more expensive than the sugar bombed regular yogurt, the pasture raised eggs are 3x the price of the store brand and the price of the grass fed meat and all natural almond butter just about gives you a heart attack.

“This stuff is way too expensive,” you say allowed with a chuckle as you place item after item in your cart. You are just a little more than anxious to see the bill for this one!

As you grab the last item on your list which happens to be coconut oil, and the most expensive item yet, you snap, decide there is no way you can afford this stuff. In a frustrated rage you empty your cart, grab the items you typically purchase and get to the checkout.

If you have ever gone out shopping and either purchased or at least contemplated purchasing the “healthier items,” the scenario above may sound familiar. OK, maybe you didn’t stomp back through the aisles and empty your cart (I actually have at one point!) but it was a one shopping trip never to happen again.

While I can’t argue that the best items are more expensive, eating healthier (the key is healthier) is actually not that expensive…but there is a link below where I go into that.

So instead of going over that, my goal is to present to you a few ways you can save a buck or two, that you can then put towards obtaining healthier items such as fresh/frozen veggies and fruit, lean meats, omega 3 or pasture raised eggs, natural peanut butter, etc. during your shopping extravaganzas.

 

 

1)      Buy in bulk- Instead of buying just enough food to make dinner for that night, try purchasing in bulk, and take advantage of bulk item stores such as Sam’s Club, BJs, etc. While you will spend more money up front, you are saving money in the long run. Don’t get caught up with the final price, but rather pay attention to the per serving price of items and you will notice that the bulk items are far less expensive. Such items include meats (chicken breast, hamburger, etc.), frozen veggies, milk, Greek yogurt, etc.

2)      Buy on sale and stock up- My grandfather is, well, “the grandfather” of stocking up! Whenever there is a sale he will grab extra of that item and store it for later. Try dedicating a spare pantry to stock up items and invest in an extra freezer (you can get them cheap online…Craigslist). This will save you tons of money in the long run, and keep your family from starving during the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse.

 

 

 

3)      Drink Water- Stop purchasing juice (especially sugar infused “juice”), Gatorade, soda, energy drinks, beer (a 6 pack can easily be as much as 10 dollars), etc. and drink water instead…it is free and you can flavor it with fresh fruit, etc! And please, don’t buy water either, but invest in a water bottle instead! It’s healthier and cheaper.

4)      Make your own coffee/tea- Going along with the last point, drinking water is free and making your own coffee or tea, while not free, is much cheaper than purchasing one every morning. Think about it like this, if your coffee costs you two dollars (which is on the cheapest end), that is 10 dollars a week, 40 dollars a month, and roughly 480 dollars per year…that is a lot of grass fed meat you could be eating!

5)      Make and pack meals- Truth is, I have never once bought lunch at work. Whether it was when I was landscaping as a youth, interning at Cressey Performance or working at a local gym as a personal trainer I always made my lunch, packed it up and brought it with me. And now, it has been over two years I have been working as the Head Performance Coach at Momentum and the trend continues! Even a cheap salad will run you a minimum of 8 dollars and as I explained in THIS POST, you can make lunch for much, much cheaper.

 

 

Try these following these tips most of the time (I am not suggesting you can never again buy lunch or your favorite coffee) and you will find that you have an extra buck or two you can put towards healthier foods that will allow you to more easily achieve your health and fitness goals.

You will not only be saving money, but you will also save yourself the embarrassment of looking like a lunatic as you stomp your way back through Whole Foods, tossing the more expensive items back on the shelf…I can only imagine what people were thinking of me!

Your Daily Checklist for Success

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

“There are things that successful people do day after day that allow them to be successful”

This quote says it all and at the end of this blog there is a link to a free gift that will help you be successful too…so continue on!

 

Throughout our training careers many of us will experience high points where results come quickly, our body is transforming into a figure we imagined, and life straight out rocks. And then something happens (or doesn’t happen…keep reading) as our results come to a screeching halt and we feel depressed with how our body is looks and feels.

And while a small percentage of us may never experience the lows, the majority of us will at some point be questioning what is going on as we come face to face with this unfortunate situation.

We then start to search for latest and greatest training program that is guaranteeing unmatched results or some super diet that is based on processed powders after four weeks of a hellish cleanse. If we are lucky, this new magical program or diet will provide results and make us feel better about ourselves…at least in the short term.

But then something happens. Our results slow, our love handles return and we again feel like crap.

What is the problem?

CONSISTENTCY!…program hopping is not consistency. Diets are not consistent (just the word assumes a short term intervention).

Consistency is the key to achieving the body you want and the life you deserve. And when you ask them how they do it, those individuals who have year after year been are able to stay healthy and fit generally do a few things, EVERY DAY, that allow them to dominate life.

Here is what you need to do every day to be among those few.

1)      Take control of the morning

a)      When the alarm goes off get out of bed.

b)      Start the morning off with a big glass (or two) of cold water and a short bout of physical activity (a brisk walk, foam rolling session, bodyweight circuit, etc.).

c)       Eat a muscle meal for breakfast (lean protein, veggies, healthy fat, healthy carbohydrates).

d)      Grab everything you will need to be successful the rest of the day (gym bag, lunch/dinner, water bottle, etc.).

2)      Stay active during the day.

a)      If you sit at a desk (at work or school) make sure to move every 15-20 minutes.

b)      Expanding on the last point, if you can without getting in trouble, go for a quick walk (even if it is just to the bathroom) or perform a few reps of a bodyweight exercise at your work station (squats, lunges, push-ups, etc.). At the very least, every 15-20 minutes switch position a little. The best posture is an ever changing one…as long as you are changing from one good posture to the next.

c)       During breaks go for a walk or if you are on a phone call and can move, make it a walk and talk.

d)      For those who are looking to expend a few extra calories you can always fidget. While sitting fidget your hand and feet, as long as you are not annoying those around you!

e)      Plan physical activities with friends or family during the day/weekends such as walks, bike rides, hikes, recreational sports or simply getting out and playing with the dog/kids…it doesn’t always have to be fancy.

3)      Train in some capacity.

a)      Training is planned exercise that brings you closer to your health and fitness goals, so training isn’t always just hitting the gym. Bodyweight circuits, activations, etc. count and just need to be in accordance with your goals.

b)      Resistance train at least 3x per week making movements such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups and rows your go to…as long as you are moving right.

c)       Perform needed conditioning or recovery, bloodflow sessions or extra sprint sessions depending on your goals.

d)      Try intervals 1-2 times per week if you have already established a good conditioning base (resting heart rate is at or below 60 bpm without a medical condition).

4)      Eat for performance.

a)     Make lean proteins and veggies the base of your nutrition.

b)      Drink mainly water, coffee and tea.

c)       Stay away from processed foods as much as possible (trans fat or other processed fats, sugary processed carbohydrates, etc.).

d)      Earn your carbohydrates…eat more carbohydrates on days of intense training.

e)      Consume your largest meal (and carbohydrates) post training as your body is primed to use the nutrients.

5)      Recover and sleep.

a)      You can’t always go 100% intensity every day. Schedule lighter recovery days (bloodflow/light conditioning/recreational activities, etc.) to allow your body time to adapt and grow stronger.

b)      Make it a must to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep.

c)       Turn off electronics and dim lights an hour before bed. Use FLUX software leading up to the hour before bed.

d)      Make your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. Use blackout curtains and earplugs if necessary.

e)      Try reading, meditating, taking a warm bath/shower or light foam rolling/stretching before bed to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system.

There you have it. The more you can run through and implement the points on this list the more likely you are to achieve and maintain the body, life and confidence you want.

No more will you crush your training, nutrition and life only to come up short once again down the road. Small goals can be achieved in short bursts, but are not likely to be sustained.

Quality habits that allow you to CONSISTENTLY look and feel your best are built through a CONSISTENT daily process.

Be CONSISTENT with this list Daily Checklist and enjoy a body and life you enjoy and can be proud of!

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