Branch Chain Amino Acids

Some of you may have heard me reference BCA’s and a few of you have emailed to ask what theses are. When I talk about BCAs, I’m referring to branch-chain amino acids.AttrYNSE(caffeine)

The other question I often get is about the use of fat burners, I personally am not a fan of fat burners. I just don’t like to consume casein because I get jittery. I feel like it messes with my system and that’s just something I’m not a big fan of.

Honestly, you can get the same kind of nutritional results through food rather than supplements or fat burners. For instance, ginger is really good for your digestion. You can also add a lot more cayenne pepper to your diet, eat more plants and vegetables. Leafy greens are always going to be your best fat burner anyway because they’re clearing out your system consistently and making sure you get good fats instead of bad fats. The supplements really aren’t necessary if you’re going for all natural and healthy.

I admit that I do consume a lot of protein shakes, especially right now. Normally, I probably drink 1 or 2 a day. I guess it’s a lot but when you’re working out hard every day, you need it. That’s why I’ve tried to keep my supplements limited to just the protein. It’s the only thing I can’t get enough of through my natural diet.

Pre-workout energizers and energy drinks

What do you do to get yourself pumped up to go to the gym? I used to drink a Red Bull, until I learned it was working against me. My training coach told me no more Red Bull an hour before the gym. He switched me over to eating an apple and 30 minutes before my workout. If I need it, I allow myself a cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, I’m having more coffee lately because I am getting ready for a race and my body is running on 30 to 40 carbs a day max. I feel like I’m dying. Sometimes I don’t even know how I’m functioning at all.

During these times, coffee becomes your best friend. I admit these last couple weeks, on an average morning, I don’t think that green tea or coffee is a bad way to go. If you haven’t tried it, there is a pre-workout energizer through Vega. The flavor isn’t necessarily my favorite but it’s also not horrible. The upside of coffee over a designer energy drink is that coffee really is all natural. It’s a much more natural way for your body to receive a stimulant.

If you do chose to go with a mix product, I recommend making it more palatable. Dates are a great natural sweetener. You can just throw one into the mix and blend it right in. It really takes the edge of the bitter flavor of the lime and lemon. If you don’t have a Vitamix, I recommend buying one if you’re going to be serious about nutrition.

A friend gave me his old one because he had it but didn’t love it. I can’t imagine not loving this Vitamix! He gave it to me like it didn’t even matter. It’s a $350 blender! You’ve got to be kidding.

When you add the date to the mix, the flavor’s a little strange but I like it. It seems to be doing the trick, but I’ll still have it with a coffee. I don’t think coffee’s the devil.

Creatine

I used to take creatine. Maybe I can start taking that again. I’ve even started thinking, “God. I want to lose some weight around the love handles. What if I took a fat burner?”

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But then I always think, “What in nature is a fat burner?” Instead of taking a pill fat burner, couldn’t I just start eating healthier and more nutritious meals? Also, I’m on and off again with the energy drinks. I keep needing them before a workout, but I’d really like to kick that habit too. They’re not actually natural.

Pre-workout energizers, fat burners, creatine. The supplements so many athletes use are not whole foods. In fact, they’re not food at all. They’re pills.

Creatine works for some people and it doesn’t work for some people. Personally, I didn’t really see results, which is unfortunate because, despite it not being natural, I was hoping for a shortcut to better muscles tone. A friend of mine used creatine and worked really well for her. She looked great. She put on some muscle which is really hard for her.

I ended up taking creatine. Unfortunately, if you’re going to use it, you need to cycle it. Do it for a month and a half to 2 months and then take a month or so off. Then you can pick it back up. I might do it again after the race and see if I notice any differences this time. Maybe if I honed and cleaned up my diet a little more, I could see big results.

Choosing your Creatine

Finding the best source of creatine is all about where it’s derived from. Supplementing with creatine can sometimes mess with your brain function, so having a reliable and high quality source of creatine is not just important for your body now but for the future. I can’t remember the exact chemical breakdown of it but basically, if you’re getting creatine from a purely vegetable based diet, you may have some trouble later on.

When I started working out at age 18 I used creatine all the time. Who knows what I was putting into my body and brain at such a young age. The problem when you first start trying to work out is that you do what other successful people are doing. You see someone else at the gym taking certain supplements and you think you should be taking them too. You think, “Oh, well. I don’t want to not do it if that’s what everyone’s doing. I don’t want to be the one left behind.”

Our muscles are made of branched-chain amino acids. That’s what they are. There’s another problem with the supplements people take after a workout. Quality. If you don’t know where the materials were sourced and where the product comes from, you could be doing your body more harm than good.

I’ve read weird things like horse’s urine and bull urine being used in some of these muscle building supplements. They may work in the short term, but what are the long term side effects of something like this? Plus, it’s gross. If you don’t know exactly where those things are coming from, avoid using the supplement.

When I first started getting into shape and experimenting with supplements, I didn’t really know where BCAs came from. I hadn’t been in a biology class for many years. Now, it’s been 8 years. At the time I was running 3 miles a day and doing yoga as well as pilates. I haven’t thought about that period of time for a while.

Now, I’m in chemistry and take all of this very seriously. I had intuition about what would be healthy and what would be unhealthy, but now I have it confirmed with real information. You come to learn quickly that you need to be asking more questions before you take any supplement. It’s still unclear if your body treats synthetic supplements differently than getting them naturally through food.

My take on Protein Shakes

Protein Shakes

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m all over the board when it comes to my protein shakes. I used to be really strict with what I ate, just because I knew that being really consistent was the easiest way for me to stay in shape. I even got sponsored by PlantFusion, which is a great option for those looking for a protein powder.

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I don’t know if you’ve ever had them, but they’re amazing. The shakes are really thin, without getting to thick or clumpy, and the flavor’s really nice and light. I’m a pretty big fan of that right now. Probably mostly because I got sponsored by them, which is originally what started me on them, but I’m really a big fan now. Genuinely.

You will often find them at the fitness trade shows and all the festivals. They’re really active with promotion.

When I’m not drinking the regular protein shakes, I do like to do raw protein because it’s really good for your body. Your body can assimilate that protein a lot easier than a processed protein that’s been through heat. It’s good to do that when you can so I’ll use Sunwarrior, or Garden of Life and I’m a big fan of Warrior Force also. Like I said, I’m all over the board. I have different reasons for all of them that I love.

I am protein junkie.

Finding a Fitness Coach Who Understand Supplements

That leads to a question that I would love to address. Before I became the specimen I am now (har har), I had been on and off going to the gym, working out, really stumbling and finding my way in the dark. A friend of mine back in my home town became like my fitness Yoda by phone, as far as coaching me through my workouts and what to eat. As a fitness freak, he had learned how to translate what he does to stay fit and maintain a healthy diet. I go a lot of helpful info from him but I have to say it’s been now about 14 months for me consistently going to the gym. I’m patting myself on the back here because I had never been able to do that before getting a fitness coach.

Now, I go to the gym consistently more than 9 or 10 times a week. Even though I always get bored, or sick, or disinterested or preoccupied with something else. Then I just stop with the exception of a month or two where I fell off the wagon a little. If I’m really in it to win it, I’m always able to motivate myself to get back to the gym. Having a mentor helps tremendously with this. And I couldn’t do it without hime.

A lot of the old habits try to come back, whether it’s a question of running or whether it’s just being chemical free and natural. A lot of old habits will start tempting me. That’s when I call my coach and then start to feel like I want to accelerate my results.

Advice on Vegan / Vegetarian Diet

Doctor’s advice on diet

I think it’s very interesting that my doctor told me to drop the dairy. It’s funny. The last time I got very sick was when I first moved to California. I got the flu–one of the worst flues I ever had in my life. The doctor said, “Don’t eat any dairy,” which was weird because I’d never had a doctor say that to me before. Really knocked me out that a doctor was recommending this kind of diet change. He didn’t even know I was into working out.

It was definitely refreshing to hear that from doctors, since it seems like that’s such a point of conflict in the medical community. It’s kind of nice to hear doctors are making the connection between our health and what we eat.

I do think that dairy is bad for you. It’s basically this thing that everybody can’t deny anymore. Not even doctors.

Eating Healthy to Support Fitness

I’m obviously an incredibly athletic person. I’m aware on an hourly basis that I need to eat to support my workout and training goals. I’ll try to give you an idea of what my daily consumption is and what I eat on an average day.

Breakfast:

When I’m not getting ready for a race, I always start my morning with some oats. I’ll do a little bit of nut or oat milk with it. I like cinnamon so I throw a lot of cinnamon in there and some berries, usually strawberries or blueberries. I always have a protein shake. If I’m not terribly hungry, I might start with just a banana and a protein shake and then stick another something to eat in my bag while I’m at the gym.

Then I go to the gym. When I come home, I immediately have a protein shake. I’m kind of protein shake heavy just because I’m trying to put on muscle. That may not be practical for everybody else but having a protein shake after working out is ideal for anyone that’s working out.

Then, my lunch usually consists of something like a sweet potato with veggies and avocado. I really like doing little veggie stir fries. I don’t cook with oil so I just basically blanch everything with a little bit of water, get the flavors in there and do onions and garlic and ginger and carrots and kale.

I’m a big fan of kale.

Then, somewhere in the afternoon, maybe 2 or 3 hours after lunch, I have a fruit and a rice cake with peanut butter. Later, I have another snack where I might have fruit or fruit and veggies.

Dinner is usually similar to lunch. I might do quinoa veggies and tofu or tempeh or seitan or the sweet potato or brown rice or something like that but I do definitely try to stick with a complex carbohydrate. I need something that my body can slower process through and make sure I get lots of veggies in there because that’s what makes our bodies happy.

So, that’s a pretty typical day for my diet. As far as drinks go, I just drink a lot of water. Lately I’ve been addicted to those KeVita drinks with probiotics.

They’re delicious. I love Kombucha but the KeVita’s nice because it doesn’t have as many carbs in there, not that everybody else cares all the time about carbohydrates. Right now, I’m supposed to be getting ready for a huge race. It’s really nice to have something I can still drink and be on my diet. Those are my new addiction.

On the other hand, I feel like I get drunk when I drink Kombucha so I don’t like it for that reason. I’ll have a little bit and I’ll feel a little drunk and I don’t like it.

I’m obviously sensitive to it and I know some of them have higher alcohol percentages, too.