blog

Recovery Day – Pre Workout Gains

Even before you hit the gym, you ask yourself a million questions.

“Should I workout today? If so, what should I eat beforehand? Or should I take a pre-workout supplement? Actually, should I take anything at all?”

We’ve discussed this over and over — fueling your body is easier said than done.

Ideally, everything you eat should be balanced. This means that even if you eat a snack, there ought to be equal parts of proteins, carbs, and fats adjusted to your macronutrient needs.

Yes — that can be challenging. Peter Curcio, CrossFit coach and breakingmuscle.com writer, says that before you workout, you should eat a solid meal 60-120 minutes before hitting the gym of 0.4 grams per pound of body weight each of protein and carbohydrate.

Obviously there is no 100% correct, gold standard answer to how much an individual should scarf down at that time, but you see the point.

IF you are short on time or exercise in the early morning, it doesn’t make sense to wake up at 4:00am to eat a meal just so you can workout at 6:00am. Another good idea is to simply eat “good carbs” 15-30 minutes before you hit the gym.

“Good Carbs” are non-processed complex carbohydrates, thus have a chemical structure that makes it harder for our bodies to digest. It makes us feel fuller longer and allows us to have sustained energy when running around.

Oats, whole grains, and fruits are examples of good carbs you can eat before working out.

Personally, I used to never eat before working out. I then started to eat around 20-30g of carbs before working out and I was no longer shaky or sluggish during my session. Since I typically workout in the morning, I scarf down some oatmeal, half a banana, or 1/4 cup of dried fruit on the way to gym.

Note that supplements should always be your last resort. No product can substitute real food and hard work. Put your nose to the grindstone and get after it.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Liquid Calories Are Thwarting Your Game

“You shouldn’t drink your calories. You should eat them.”

But why?

We hear this all the time. Some people swear by meal-replacement smoothies, but some people preach for only consuming actual food. So . . . what works?

When you drink something, you don’t satisfy your hunger craving. Your body doesn’t know the difference between water and a meal-replacement smoothie. It’s just searching for the water content to tell your brain that you’re no longer thirsty. Your stomach will remain hungry, even if your thirst is “quenched”.

A study from Harvard University and Children’s Hospital in Boston found that drinking liquid calories makes people gain weight. People who drink sugar-sweetened drinks ate around 375 more calories than what they meant to intake. This includes fruit juices (which are often labeled as “healthy,”) smoothies, soda, diet drinks, etc. However, people who didn’t drink their calories were consistently at around a 300 calorie cut per day.

The key is to stay fuller for longer by eating FOOD. This is due to the volume and/or actual weight of what you’re eating. Eating food takes up more space in your stomach, whereas drinking your calories doesn’t always feel like you’re eating something. Because, well, you’re not.

It’s hard to understand what you should and shouldn’t eat. We get that. We suggest that your rule of thumb should be to intake your calories via tangible foods instead of drinks. However, if you are short on time and need to drink your calories, make sure you have a significant amount of protein, fats, and carbs in your drink so that your body can feel properly full.

The weight loss game is calories in vs calories out. But liquid calories are tricky. They confused your stomach and your brain. Be aware and listen to your body.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Accountability vs. Motivation

Accountability is a great idea. In theory it insinuates a level of control that paints a picture of puppeteering productivity and success. In practice it is a situation where an individual, group of individuals, or a robotic system of sorts does a load of work to keep everyone, maybe everything, on task so as to fulfill a purpose. There may need to be some kind of reward system and conversely a discipline or penalty system to drive adaptation or production of said accountability. If you’re thinking with me you’re starting to see a problem. 

There is quite a bit of work put on the plate of the one(s) holding the other(s) accountable simply to get the producer to actually be accountable and well . . . produce. 

Let’s say a columnist has a deadline of Thursday at midnight for an overnight print for Friday’s edition. They are required to have a finished, quality piece written and turned in to the editors for final review before printing and delivering Friday. Their accountability is that they were given the hard deadline. Maybe an additional piece was given that of their 1000 word piece they needed to chop it to 700 by Tuesday at midnight then it had to be condensed even more by the Thursday deadline. 

So they were accountable initially to be prepared and then again to be finalized in their writing. Motivation was simply maybe to do their job well in order to keep it, but the accountability was simply get it done . . . or else. 

We could argue that motivating the writer could drive their purpose in creativity better and may even get them working ahead of time. Getting to their sources earlier and having multiple pieces in the incubator so when it comes to deadline they are more than prepared; they’re excited and plentifully ready with multiple options. 

Motivation could be anything. Maybe the writing was an online source like a blog and the more views, likes, shares their writing produced the greater it was reflected in their pay. Maybe the more production they had as such they were rewarded by getting more space to print (more words or a more premium location like a front page) or even more prime, headline type material. 

We can paint motivation a hundred different ways but the theory holds true. Accountability may keep someone/something on track, but it most likely will not drive quality or just plain old caring. Something to be said for real motivation. What is it? How do we come by it? How do we execute it?

Recovery Day – The Million Dollar Secret

I know the million-dollar secret to losing weight.

It’s stupid simple.

The common denominator to losing weight, proven 100% of the time is . . . 

maintaining a calorie deficit.

What? You already knew that. Then why is it that people go to the extremes like adhering to some crazy diet, slashing out carbs completely, or doing hours upon hours of cardio to lose weight?

Let’s break it down:

FACT: People do lose weight on diets.

Keto diets are successful because people tend to feel “fuller” based on the volume of fat they eat. Intermittent fasting works because there are less hours to eat in the day. Paleo diets work because people eat more natural foods and less calorie-dense and processed foods.

The denominator: decreasing the amount of calories eaten.  

FACT: People gain weight on diets that are meant for weight loss.

Keto diets fail when people eat their fats in a surplus. Intermittent fasting fails when people just eat everything they were eating beforehand in a shorter time period. Paleo diets fail when you simply eat more calories than needed.

The denominator: eating an excess amount of calories.

The takeaway is to be mindful of what you put in your body, but not to stress out over a treat now and then. Right now, you might be thinking that all diets are a cult and that you should eat In-N-Out every day.

THIS IS FALSE.

If you eat poorly, your body won’t know what to do with all the processed carbs and fats besides turn it into fat. Your body isn’t special. We all lose weight and keep it off by doing the same thing– by cutting calories in a healthy way. There is no pill, no specific workout.

Vegetables, natural fats, and lean proteins will always be the kings that rule over you.

So, go ahead. Slam-dunk that midnight snack if (and only if!) you know that you’ll still be at a calorie deficit after eating those calories. Fueling your body shouldn’t be a chore.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – The Food Mentality

Have you ever been in the middle of a gnarly workout, and then half-way through you completely stop, pack up your bags, and leave?

The answer is no. So why do we think that’s acceptable with our meals?

Why is it that we will eat well Monday and Tuesday, maybe throw in a hefty slice of cake Wednesday night, and then completely fall off the wagon Thursday-Sunday, but still have a cheat day Sunday?

Some of this has to do with planning. Part of this also comes from our inability to consistently eat well-balanced meals.

That doesn’t mean there has to be every color on your plate — that just means that you have to have your key macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) accounted for in every meal and every snack you consume.

Yes, you read that correctly. Make sure that even your snacks are well-balanced.

Right now, you’re probably thinking that this sounds like you have to meal prep. You don’t need to count your macros or even meal prep in order to keep your goals intact. Meal prepping is annoying. It’s a fact. You have to be pretty organized in order to get everything to fit exactly into your 3-meals-7-days-a-week grocery list. Contrary to popular belief, if you just focus on getting lean proteins, a variety of veggies, hearty carbs, and natural fats, you’ll be good to go.

The secret to staying “on the wagon” is this: find foods that make you *feel* good. Meals that make you excited are key to staying motivated to eat well. Marry this idea with consuming well-balanced meals, and you’ll actually look forward to eating what people are calling healthy. You will keep yourself motivated, and you will find yourself in a sustainable lifestyle.

Be selfish. Focus on what you want.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

What’s your ‘why’?

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

There are a handful of moments in life when your why becomes extremely clear. You may not expect them and they may not always be welcomed. That’s the finicky thing about your true why; you don’t always get to choose it. 

I had one of those moments recently. Rather than go into detail about what hit me, where, when etc. I figure it’s better to get a sense of how you know. 

Some describe it as a “pit in your stomach”. Maybe you hair stands up on the back of your neck. You might have one of those crystal clear moments where your vision even seems to improve. Goosebumps could be the difference. I can’t say for sure which one is the physical manifestation. 

Mine was the first one. 

I had this sinking, but uplifting, feeling in my stomach. It was like nothing else mattered. I’ve known this was my why for some time, but the moment lingered heavily. The air came out of the room a bit. My eyes welled up in a way. I felt embarrassed, but proud at the same time. 

There were a lot of clashing feelings that seemed to want each others’ company all the same. 

Normally you’d feel happiness by itself. There’d be no combatting emotion. I felt sadness at the same time. I felt self-conscious while simultaneously feeling like I didn’t care at all. 

I can’t materialize it much more than that. Maybe giving a manifestation of my own experiences like this can help another find or recognize theirs. 

Yours could be similar or completely different. I can’t say for sure. 

I can say that not everyone finds their why. Even then, there are those who find it and let it slip away. If you find yours, please, don’t let it go. 

Recovery Day – Portion Control

Let’s be real.

Portion control is the evil stepmother of eating healthy.

It’s annoying, it tests you, and you can’t get away from it.

Yes, everyone knows that eating too many cupcakes is a bad thing. However, learning what 1 serving of cheese looks like in a (sad) bowl of pasta is a different type of gut check.

For example, let’s look at peanut butter.

This is NOT a tablespoon of peanut butter.

Let’s repeat that.

That is NOT a tablespoon of peanut butter.

This IS a leveled tablespoon of peanut butter. An *actual* tablespoon of peanut butter.

This is a simple example, but it goes without saying that you can be adding 30-70%+ calories of ANYTHING by not properly measuring out your food. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, if you’re trying to lose half a pound to a pound a week, the extra 250-500 calories a day is what will stall your weight loss.

If this scares you and you can’t trust yourself to measure out peanut butter, cut it out of your diet. Keep in mind that carbs and protein are both 4 calories per gram each while fat is 9 calories per gram. Focus on the volume of food and tailor your diet to your needs.

And if you’re still hungry, eat a small balanced meal . . . because I promise that 1 “tablespoon” of peanut butter won’t fill you up. Promise.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Cheat Day

Cheat Day. The day you feast like it’s Thanksgiving and are remiss of shame.

Right?

To some people, this is typically a day where no foods are off limit, you don’t track your macros, and you eat as much as you want.

Breakfast: donuts and bacon. Lunch: pizza, ice cream, soda. Dinner: Burger, fries, cheesecake, soda. All of a sudden you ate 200g (at least) more carbs than what you’re used to, only ate a quarter of your protein intake, and the amount of fat was astronomical.

After eating like that, it’s almost impossible to get back on track the following day. Motivation is lost.

The purpose of a cheat day or a cheat meal is to satisfy cravings — not make up for all the junk you didn’t eat in a week.

Some strategies going into a cheat meal is to not track your macros and eat until satisfied. This means NOT eating until feeling sickly full. This way works best for people who have the willpower of the gods. 

Another strategy is to plan out your cheat meal and then compensate the rest of your meals by hitting your macros for the day. For example, you’d plug in that you would have a burger and fries with frozen yogurt in the evening, so you would plan your meals around that.

This doesn’t mean that you can only go out to eat if you have a cheat day scheduled. Not every outing has to be a cheat day. You can still go out to eat at restaurants, order healthy options, and enjoy yourself.

Cheat days are meant to reward you, but they have a potential to be a void. So Indulge. But indulge with a plan.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Meal Prep

Meal Prepping is kinda like a religion.

People who meal prep buckle down on Sundays, cook up a storm, throw things in containers, and tend to feel rejuvenated the rest of the week from their Sunday meal prep.

When people think of the meal prep lifestyle, they think of a lot of time, stress, and planning. You have to decide what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next 7 days and if it will fill you up.

There are a million ways to plan out meal prepping. Personally, my favorite way is to decide on a protein source, and then pile on the vegetables, carbs, fats, and spices and call it a day. It’s not scientific. It’s pretty lazy. But if it works, it works.

This meal is a staple in my lazy meal-prep life. I will baked some chicken in olive oil, throw some Sriracha on it, and then put it in a serving in a container. Then I’ll steam some green beans on high heat for 10 minutes or until bright green and throw into the same container. Finally, I’ll microwave some instant rice and toss in a serving with the chicken and vegetables.  

I’ll make a week’s worth of this in about 45 minutes.

Meal prepping doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!

Recovery Day – Salad Game Strong.

Salads. They can be limp and depressing.

What even constitutes as a salad? Technically, it is considered to be a “cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables”. That even sounds sad.

Salads are controversial. Most people–including myself–don’t find eating leaves with sugar-y water as a dressing to be appetizing. You and I probably both prefer to eat heafty, filling salads that are easy to make.

This is what I’d like to call a “happy salad.” It’s crawling in calories and foods that will excite you so much so that you’ll look forward to eating it. (Hello bacon!)

Chicken Cobb Salad | 3 servings
6 large eggs, boiled
4 slices Bacon
8 cups spinach
2 cups pulled chicken (poach in water or bake in oven to save calories)
½ cup tomatoes
1 avocado
Salt, pepper
4 tbsp red wine vinegar, 4 tbsp dijon mustard  

  1. Coarsely cut up spinach and place in a bowl. Add in chicken, sliced boiled eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and avocado.
  2. Mix salad together. Dress with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix together red wine vinegar with dijon mustard. Dress salad. Enjoy.

One of the things that makes or breaks a salad is the dressing. Mustard is low in calories and is incredibly yummy. But, if you would rather have a more scrumptious dressing, find one that you’ll enjoy but that won’t break your macronutrient bank for the day.

It can be that easy. Currently, I am obsessed with buying cabbage salad bags from Wal-Mart, slapping down a couple ounces of home-made chicken, and calling it a day. Or, if you’re not lazy like I am, you can make your own, like above.

And to all the carb monsters out there–don’t fret! Add in some leftover rice or potatoes to help fill you up. Other than that, any salad should be a green light for you.

Eating your veggies can be hard — but it doesn’t have to be. Find something you like, salad or not, and stick to it. Your body will thank you.

*Credit Nikita Tiffany. Follow @niki.eats for more cool food action!