How I’m Supplementing

I think supplementation has a strong component in any training program. Because I’ve been getting a few questions about what I use and what I take I created a new page (and tab up top) to share some of my personal favorites and my key “look-fors” when I’m shopping for alternatives that are on sale.

The Brand New Supplementation Page

I don’t think supplementation is some magical solution to being lazy or having a bad diet BUT I think that all else being the same, having a strong supplementation stack is definitely helpful in getting the results that you want.

Featured in my recommendations include brands from Kaged Muscle, Jym, Muscle Pharm, and Muscle Tech.

Questions? Let me know!

#4weeks2shred: How I handle my meals

Meal prepping for a 4 week shred was intimidating. This shred isn’t too different in ideology from the other “bodybuilding” nutrition plans – high protein, lower carbs, reduced fat. I felt ok about starting it…. until I started it.

The practice turned out to be much different. This meal plan requires you to add no fats whatsoever, and a gradually decreasing carb intake. I realized that I realistically knew nothing about cooking without fats.  Like at all.

The allowed proteins are natural beefs, poultry, salmon and egg whites; allowed carbs are: brown rice, oats, quinoa, and sweet potatoes; and there’s allowed “uncounted” veggies: spinach, asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, and cucumbers. While you’re making sure you hit your protein and carb loads, you aren’t really counting calories. Kris does a good job of explaining everything on the nutrition page, and I recommended reading it (if that wasn’t obvious). I employed the help of MyFitnessPal — which really helped me figure my nutrition out.

Meats weren’t too difficult. I seared my meats on high heats, and let the natural fats coat the pan, which worked well for the steak and chicken. Other than that, I had to tap into my background in baking, and bring out the parchment paper. When proteins roast in the oven (i.e. salmon @375 for 17 minutes),  they come out beautifully cooked — no oils needed.

Carbs weren’t hard, I used plenty of seasonings such as garlic, turmeric, cumin, paprika to cook my brown rice. I purchased quinoa and kale blend from Costco which met the gluten/dairy/wheat-free requirement and I made my oats with stevia and sweet potatoes as is. If I got a sweet tooth craving, I’d throw some cinnamon on the sweet potato, mash it up with a fork, and eat it like a pudding.

Veggies, however, were tougher. I was not a fan of plain boiled veggies, even though I passionately loved asparagus and broccoli. So, I got creative. I snacked on spinach like chips. I seasoned my veggies with some bullion powder (be careful to find a lower sodium, no carb and fat free solution), and  this has pulled me through thus far. When I was dying for something crispy and flavored, I snacked on pickles. Pickles fit the macro profile since they’re just soaked cucumbers (make sure they’re dill and not bread and butter pickles) BUT I’ve tried avoiding processed foods as much as possible in the past 2 and a half weeks. For roasting veggies, I’ve seasoned them like I normally would, used parchment paper instead of foil, and added a Tbsp of water instead of oil, which faux-steams the veggies but produces decent flavors.

Snacking became tricky. Even though I’m in the gym for long hours, Because I’m currently not taking a full course load, simply working full-time was actually tapping on the breaks for me.  That being said, I discovered Quest Nutrition Protein chips — which contain 21 grams of protein, and only 5 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat. These seriously hit the “crunch” craving for a snack like food – and I much on them a few times a week. I double up on bags, snack on some veggies, and treat it as one of my 6 meals, or occasionally snack on a bag in the middle of the day when I get seriously hungry. I’d recommended getting a few bags. They aren’t your regular potato chip but the price is well worth it… for me at least!

Fitting in Fitness When You Eat Out

I don’t want this post to end up seeming like permission to eat whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want. I avoid eating out as much as I possibly can. But I’m 22, in school and work full time. I’m already antisocial as it is and don’t need to avoid my friends any more than I already do.

So… I eat out with them because that’s what 20-some year olds do these days… But eating out really isn’t that bad anymore… especially thanks to fad diets like Atkins.

If ANY good has come out of fad diets, it’s the overwhelming availability of low-carb options at most places. At most fast food joints (not that fast food is where I go to with my friends…) there exists a “low carb” button. For example, Burger King allows you to get the whopper “low-carb” where the patty is served atop a bed of lettuce and is given to you in a container. In-n-out also allows you to get a protein style burger that’s wrapped in lettuce (and if you didn’t know about this already, you need to google their secret menu like right now).

At restaurants, I typically go for the meatier options. Steaks are typically available at most place — but I skip this for pricing reasons. Burgers are a relatively safe place to start, as long as you watch the fires. I opt for the sweet potato option since it’s more glycemic friendly, and it becomes more of a fat issue than a carb issue.

This leads me to my next point — planning ahead. When I eat out I know that my meals will probably be fattier than I normally plan for. That said, I try to eat leaner meals throughout the rest of the day. I also try to plan my meals out around my workouts. That means working out in the morning for brunch, and in the early evening if it’s dinner.

Use some common sense when picking items and pick protein heavy items. Always double-check with the online menu if there is one and prevent any hidden carbs. Some of the sauces used are loaded with sugar so I try to ask for the sauce on the side.

Regardless, eating out is no different than regular meal prep — eat lean and eat protein – make good choices!

Fitting in Fitness for two months away

Being in DC for two months made me nervous for a variety of reasons. For one, it’d be my first time away from San Diego, which has become my home in the last 5 years, for an extended duration of time. I was also going to be starting my internship in a national association that worked with professionals in my field. There was also a small level of uncertainty when it came to my housing situation and who my roommates would be. It didn’t help that the internship came with intern income and DC does not have a low cost of living.

Knowing that I’d be away from the gym that I’ve become comfortable with made me nervous. What was I going to do without my shelf of supplements? Will the dumbells work the same? I ended up realizing that I had a good amount of supplements from my previous order. I would have enough whey to last me at least 2 weeks, and some protein bars to last me the duration of summer.

Thanks to the speed of Bodybuilding.com’s fulfillment I was confident in my ability to start my new orders once I arrived. I decided that this would be a time for me to try out new supplements and step out of my Muscle Pharm comfort zone, and experiment with supplements that were on sale.

This strategy worked for a number of reasons. Thanks to Southwest, I got 2 checked bags. The food and supplements that I brought over would end up being luggage space for the things that I’d want to bring back with me like accumulated stuff that comes with traveling and souvenirs for the roommates.

Since I’ve arrived, I tried BSN’s Syntha-6 protein, TrueGril Pre, and I’m planning on getting a new post-workout/BCAA supplement when my Muscle Pharm Hardcore Gainz runs out.

Shoutout to Bodybuilding.com to helping me make it through the 2 months and Kris Gethins for teaching me to control my environment and face fear!

How I packed my meals in 15 minutes

My first meeting of the day starts at 8 AM tomorrow and my last one ends anywhere between 7-8 PM. That’s before I have to go home, go to the gym, and get ready for another day of meetings after that. I’m not too thrilled.

I just got home from my last meeting about 30 minutes, and in the time I got home, got settled, and started writing this post… I also packed all my meals, breakfast, two lunches, and my dinners for tomorrow. Within my macros.

For the synopsis, head on over to my food log for January 20, 2015 and check out what I’m planning on eating for the day.

For the slightly longer version: THANK YOU COSTCO.

My meals consist of microwavable oatmeal that I can bring to work in case I run late in the morning, and a 4 oz. serving of smoked salmon. It’s a little higher in sodium than I’d usually opt for, but I figured I deserved a treat if I’m gonna stay sane throughout the day.

My first lunch of the day involves some pre-sliced steak and refrigerated (from Costco), frozen broccoli (from Costco) that I threw into a tupperware, and half a container of microwavable brown rice (from Costco).  Get the trend? The steak I’ll be eating cold like some cold cut, with my broccoli and microwavable brown rice which will heat up and finish cooking in the microwave tomorrow.

My second meal consists of Kirkland pre-cooked chicken breasts that I’ll eat on my drive from meeting to meeting, along with broccoli that I will heat up and eat along the way.

Because I’m buying everything in bulk… nothing is too pricey and I’m still spending less money than I normally would eating out all of my meals.

I also brought a MusclePharm Combat Bar to hold me over in case I want a snack somewhere in there  and I also planned for my 2 daily shakes intra- and post-workout.

Because I knew I’d be home late, and I’d have to sleep early so I could get up early tomorrow, I was grateful for the stock of food I kept in the pantry/refrigerator. Food that rarely goes bad. This saved me a ton of time.

Granted, my sodium level is a little overboard, and this isn’t the most balanced/fresh meals I could be eating, I’d rather compromise with some pre-packaged but clean meals, than eating out when I don’t need to.

Perhaps my biggest tip for the day is entering my “planned” meals the night before when I pack my meals… That way I know how much I can pack for and plan for any meals that I’ll be eating out.

Being busy isn’t an excuse. Working isn’t an excuse. Plan ahead and you will prevail. If there is a will, there is a way. I found my way to fit fitness into my life, how do you do it?

Taking a moment to give a huge shout out to Kris Gethin. He continue’s to be my motivation and teacher. Check out his new line of supplements and his website as well at: http://kagedmuscle.com.

I even got some advice from him today… Thanks Kris!

In the meantime, check out my instagram for some diet food inspirations and updates from my life!

My “Diet”

The word “diet” is another one of those words that have started gaining a negative connotation with regards to fitness. This is one of those cases that I can actually agree with. Dieting such that you’re body is subjected to abnormally low amounts of fats or carbs might be effective in the short term but tend to have little to no long term results and a bounce-back effect when you come off the diet. That is, when you end your special food program, your body thinks it just underwent starvation, and begins to store large amounts of whatever macronutrient you deprived it of. No Bueno.

Ironically, the origin of the word diet was from diete, diaeta, or diaita (Middle English, Anglo-French, and Greek) all revolving the the manner of living. The word diet was intended to describe how one ate or drank, and is the summation of the foods that one consumes.

Thus, while I do watch my diet and critically evaluate what I eat, I don’t believe in fad diets.

At the end of the day, a net calorie loss equals weight loss, and a net calorie surprise equals weight gained. Whether it be fat, or muscle, that depends on what is complimenting your lifestyle at the time.

I utilize MyFitnessPal (join me @itsboomie) to count how much calories I eat. I’ve found that this helps me understand the overall amount of food I’m eating. To help compliment my specific fitness goals, I also consider my macronutrients or my “macros”. In many ways, just like how your weight is only a part of the bigger picture, your overall caloric intake can mean many things. Each gram of fat you eat is 9 calories and each gram of protein and carbs is 4 calories each.

I’ve found that by watching my macros, I’m able to effectively evaluate how much I’m eating. Bodybuilding.com wrote an excellent article on how much protein someone should be ingesting, especially when attempting to build muscle mass. The article supported the 1 gram per pound bodyweight of protein that is commonly suggested. This equals about 50% of my total caloric intake. I then split the remainder of my carbohydrates and fats 3:2.  MyFitnessPal (under the Goals settings) allows for you to input these goals and helps me watch my macros as I eat throughout the day.

That said, just because I can eat up to a certain amount of a certain macronutrient, doesn’t mean I go crazy. For my carbohydrate and fat goals, I am for fiber-rich carbohydrates and unsaturated good-fats through broccoli and avocado oil. I supplement my diet with 2 double-scoop protein shakes a day, one post-workout, and one before bed. This makes up 100 g, close to 50% of my protein intake. Without it, hitting 50% is difficult for me. My day to day food menu changes with whatever I want to eat and whatever I crave, so long as I hit my goal.

This allows me to indulge in the occasional chips and salsa when I’m at a holiday party, and gives me the freedom to make my diet… mine.

The concept of macro-watching only makes up a small element of “my diet” but is probably the most foundational piece. By watching my macros and calories at the same time, I’m allowed a great amount of flexibility while achieving my fitness goals.

Every person reacts differently to a diet. At the end of the day, it really depends on what works for you. I’ve found that my body adapts well to the commonly used 50:30:20 protein:carbs:fats and I’ve stuck with it. There are a lot of different opinions on dieting, but at the end of the day, this is whats worked for me.