Best Plant-Based Protein

Nowadays, people are looking for non-dairy alternatives to replace their current whey protein. Plant-based proteins are great for everyone, but especially great for those who are vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, or simply trying to eliminate dairy from their diet. Research shows that plant-based proteins are lower in calories and fat than animal proteins. Also, plant-based protein is higher in fiber. Therefore, switching to a plant-based protein will help you reduce your caloric intake and increase your nutrient profile.

If you are interested in switching to a plant-based protein, I have the scoop on the best one to try! Over the years (well, the last 5), I have tried a variety of different plant-based protein and I have finally found the one that I like the best. Personally, I enjoy a protein that tastes well when mixed with water, one that’s low in carbs, and one that mixes well in general.

Orgain-doesn’t taste well when mixed with water; higher in carbs; used for smoothies so it wouldn’t go to waste

Vega Sport-not a great taste when mixed with water; great carb to protein ratio; great with blended smoothies

OrganIQ Eats-doesn’t taste great when mixed with only water; higher in carbs; great with blended smoothies

Sunwarrior Protein (Warrior Blend)-tastes ok…tolerable when mixed with water; great protein to carb ratio; great with blended smoothies

Vedge nutrition-doesn’t taste well when mixed with water; chalky; received as a free sample so I didn’t have to use it up with blended smoothies 🙂

Planta Protein-mixes well with just water; tastes great with just water; most flavors mix well. Favorite flavors (in order)-Chocolate caramel candy bar (like a twix), Banana Maple French Toast, Peanut Butter Banana, & Peanut Butter Cup. I have tried Sprinkle Cupcake and Blueberry Scone and I was not a fan of either flavor profile.

If you have tried any of the proteins mentioned, have any other recommendations, or if you give Planta Protein a try, please let me know!

Iced Caramel Coffee

Love coffee drinks from your favorite coffee spot but hate all of the added calories? Me too! We’re both in luck because I found a way to have my iced coffee and get some extra protein, and now, you can too!

Ingredients

24 oz cup (currently using Venti reusable Starbucks cup)

4-6 oz Coffee of your choice (currently using Starbucks Honey & Madagascar Vanilla)

11 oz Protein Shake of choice (currently using Premier Protein) *I have made this recipe with caramel, cinnamon roll, & cookies & cream. My favorite is cinnamon roll.*

1 tbsp caramel (currently using Torani sugar free caramel sauce)

Ice

Directions

Brew Coffee

While coffee is brewing, prepare your cup. Squeeze approx 1 tbsp of caramel into your cup. *Feel free to get creative with a design.*

Fill your cup with ice

Pour in your desired amount of coffee

Pour in your protein drink

Stir

Enjoy!

Calories-200 Protein-30g Carbs-8g Fat-4g

*If you enjoy Starbucks, you can order this drink by asking for a double shot of espresso over ice in a Venti cup; add caramel drizzle. Pour your protein and enjoy!

If you give this drink a try, please let me know what you think!

Best Protein on the Market!

Originally published March 16, 2016

Over the years, I have tried lots of proteins, but only two of them have been deemed the best protein shakes for me.

What do you look for in a protein? I like my protein to have the necessary nutrients, of course, but I also like my protein to taste good and mix well. There are many protein powder shakes on the market with the necessary nutrients but taste awful!

It has taken a lot of trial and error (several bad purchases) to find the best protein on the market that I truly enjoy. This protein not only has the proper nutrients, but it tastes awesome and mixes well.

This protein (Vanilla) is only 100 calories and 3 grams of net carbs. It has a protein blend which contains whey and caesin for a total of 22g per serving.

Another cool thing about this protein is that you can cook with it as well. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes! I’ll keep you updated on the recipes that I try.

It comes in a variety of flavors, including strawberry, vanilla, cookies and cream, and many more. I’ve tried both the vanilla and the strawberry. Both reminded me of having a milkshake. Tasty!

Have you tried Quest protein?

What’s your favorite protein?

What do you consider the best protein on the market?

Healthy Tips for the BIG GAME

Originally published February 6, 2016

The BIG GAME is Sunday and everyone is excited about the matchup between the Broncos and the Panthers! However, the real matchup is YOU vs FOOD during your Super Bowl festivities.

At the start of the year, you made a goal to lose weight, change your eating habits, exercise more, etc. Now, it’s time for the BIG GAME and you’ll be faced with lots of temptation regarding your food choices. For many, while in the beginning stages of changing your diet, out of sight, out of mind works really well; but what do you do when you’re staring all the foods you love face to face?

I’ve composed a few tips to help you survive the day.

  1. Don’t go to the party hungry. Eat a nutritious meal prior to going to the party. You’ll be less likely to overindulge on the fatty, sugary options.
  2. Drink plenty of water. Drinking water will help keep you full and prevent you from overeating.
  3. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol is filled with lots of empty calories. If you must drink beer or other alcoholic beverages, consume a bottle of water between drinks. The water will make you feel full and in turn drink less.
  4. Eat in moderation. Don’t feel bad if you have a few of the high fat snacks you enjoy. If you do decide to indulge, just limit your proportions.
  5. Take a healthy dish to the party. Find a healthy version of your favorite food and let that be your contribution to the party. No one will know they’re eating the healthy version unless you tell them 😉

Below are a couple of recipes to try:

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

A quick and easy creamy ranch dip that is completely guilt-free and tastes just as indulgent as the original!

YIELD: about 1 cup  PREP TIME: 3 minutes  COOK TIME: 0 minutes  TOTAL TIME: 3 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Fresh, chopped chives garnish

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients: Greek yogurt, garlic, onion, dill, salt, Worcestershire, and cayenne. Garnish with fresh chives and serve.

Recipe Source:  wellplated.com

Debdoozie’s Blue Ribbon Chili

Prep  10 m  Cook  1 h  Ready In  1 h 10 m

Recipe By:Deb

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
  • 4 tablespoons chili seasoning mix
  • 1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired.
  2. Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Recipe Source:  allrecipes.com

**To make this chili healthier, use the leanest cut of beef, turkey (my preference), or chicken.  Use low/no sodium canned goods.  Use a fresh salsa vs jarred.  Aldi sells a delicious fresh salsa if there is one located in your area.

I hope you find these tips useful as you prepare for the BIG GAME.  If you try any of the tips or the recipes, please let me know what you think.

Fiesta Salad

Originally published January 28, 2016

This is a quick recipe that you can whip up any day of the week.  It’s a great meal to enjoy on a cheat or high carb day!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages chicken breast
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • lettuce
  • salsa
  • cheese
  • sour cream (may substitute plain greek yogurt)
  • tortillas
  • any other toppings you enjoy on your salads

Directions:  Heat chicken in skillet on medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp taco seasoning to chicken.  Heat until warm.  Place black beans in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until warm (1 min-1 min, 30 sec).  After chicken and beans are heated to your desired temperature, layer your salad as desired.  I layered mine as follows:  tortillas, lettuce, chicken, beans, and salsa to top it off.

Calories:  340 Protein:  23g  Carbs:  43g  Fat:  10g

*Nutritional info will vary if adding cheese, sour cream, or other toppings

Whatsa Macro?

Originally published February 19, 2015

If you’ve checked out fitness posts on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen the term “macro” mentioned within the post.  Everyone is talking about their macros and you may be wondering, whatsa macro?  Macro is short for macronutrients.  Let’s break it down.  Macro means large.  Nutrients are substances needed for growth and metabolism in the body.  Therefore, macronutrients are substances needed in large amounts for growth and metabolism in the body.  There are three macronutrients:  Protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Importance of Protein

Protein can help you lose fat, build muscle, and improve your overall general appearance.  It aids in growth, tissue repair, helps with your immune health, makes essential hormones and enzymes, provides energy when carbohydrates are not available, and preserves lean muscle mass.  The daily recommended protein intake is 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  Currently I’m taking in 1 gram per pound of body weight, putting me at 140 grams of protein per day.

Importance of Carbohydrates

Generally speaking, the majority of your caloric intake should come from carbohydrates (may vary depending on your specific goals).  Carbs are the body’s main source for fuel and energy.  They provide glucose to all of our tissues and cells in the body.  Carbohydrates are needed for the central nervous system and other main organs such as our brain, heart and kidneys to function properly.  Carbohydrates can be stored and later used for energy.  Carbohydrates also play a role in our intestinal health.  Your carbohydrate intake is your total daily calories less your protein and fat calories.  My total carb intake per day is 160 grams or 640 calories.  Again, the amount of carbohydrates you take in will depend on your current goals.

Importance of Fats

Contrary to popular belief, consuming fats do not make you fat.  Consuming an excess of calories, whether it comes from fat, protein, or carbs, makes you fat, not the intake of fat alone.  Now that we have that settled, let’s continue.  Fats help with normal growth and development, gives you energy, helps with the absorption of some vitamins, gives cushion to your organs, maintains your cells, and gives taste, stability, and consistency to foods.  There are three main types of fats:  trans, saturated, unsaturated.  Trans fat is the unhealthiest of all the fats.  It has been shown to lead to an increase in your bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes.  They should be avoided.  Trans fat is typically found in fried foods, fast foods, chips, cookies, etc.  For the most part it is found in all the foods we know we shouldn’t be eating anyway.  Saturated fat is not as unhealthy as trans fat, but it’s still not good for you either, especially in large amounts.  Saturated fat has been known to cause high cholesterol.  Saturated fats can be found in beef, veal, lamb, pork, butter, lard, and cream just to name a few.  Intake of saturated fats should be limited.  Unsaturated fat has been shown to decrease the risks of heart disease as well as lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol.  Unsaturated fats are most commonly found in fish, nuts, nut butters, avocados, olive oil, and seeds.  The majority of our fat intake should come from unsaturated fats.  Fat should be 20-30% of your diet.  Personally, I choose 25%.  My daily fat intake is 44g.  Calculate your macros here.

For myself, this is the diet that I am currently following.  If I were competing, I would follow a stricter plan or incorporate some form of carb cycling to get my desired results.  At times, people take the IIFYM approach to the extremes.  Some will consume a lot of unhealthy foods and then give the excuse that it fits their macros.  Yes, at times I will have Oreos, skittles, or peanut M & M’s and yes, it does fit into my macros but there’s a downfall.  Per example, 1/4 cup of skittles is 37g of carbohydrates with no nutritional  value.  They’re 160 calories, contain 1.5g of fat and 30g of sugar.  1/4 cup of fresh pineapple is only about 5-6g carbs and provides vitamin C.  The pineapple is only about 20 calories and only has about 4g of sugar.  It’s obvious which snack would be more beneficial to you but if you just have to have the skittles or your favorite snack, have them; just know that you are giving up a lot of calories for non-nutritional foods and will need to adjust your macros accordingly.  Many people feel less restricted when following the IIFYM method.  Which method of eating works best for you?

Easy Carb Cycling Meal Plan

Originally posted January 29, 2015

Carb cycling is an eating plan with alternating high-carb and low-carb days.  You can even choose to add in a reward day!  How awesome is that?

High carbohydrate days promotes muscle growth by stimulating an insulin response, which sends nutrients to your muscle cells.  High carb days also replenishes your glycogen stores (fuel for muscles) and makes you feel energized.

Low carb days promote fat loss.  You may notice feeling a little tired on your low carb days.  The body is tricked into burning fat for fuel instead of the sugar the body would typically get from carbohydrates.  It’s just that simple.

There are multiple ways that you can choose to do a carb cycle.  You can choose to alternate your high and low carbs daily, once every two days, even three days depending on the results you are trying to achieve.  Alternately, depending on your training habits and goals, you may decide to have two high carb days to one low carb day.  You may also decide to manipulate your carbs by only consuming them in the morning.  You may have to play around with different carb cycling patterns to see which one works best for your body and your lifestyle.

Below is the easy carb cycling meal plan I followed along with the experiences I had.

Day 1

This morning 1/12/15, I began my carb cycling.  I have chosen to alternate my high and low carb days daily with a possible cheat day on Saturday or Sunday.  This morning I weighed in at 136.5.  I planned out my carbohydrates for the day.  My goal is to stay below 70g.  I normally take in approximately 250g.  Here is what I planned for my low carb day:

Oatmeal-27g

Planters honey roasted peanuts-7g

1/2 grapefruit-13g

blueberries-2g

walnuts-2g

Protein bar-9g

Protein-8g

Total 68g carbs

My first low carb day went well!  I took in more carbs than planned but stayed below 100g.  I took in an additional 10g of carbs.  The extra carbs came from miscellaneous foods such as lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sausage.  I use the myfitnesspal application to keep track of my foods.  I didn’t eat my 1/2 grapefruit.  I instead had 1% milk with my protein shake.  I have recently realized that I do not enjoy my protein mixed with water only.  It may be time to search for a new protein.  My energy level was great throughout the day.  I had a short, but effective workout today.  I trained legs.  My workout last 39:01 and I burned 772 calories.  I drank just under a gallon of water throughout the day.  My total calorie count for the day was 1564.

Day 2 (1/13/15)

I weighed in this morning at 133 lbs.  I didn’t plan my carbs for the day.  In general, I tend to stick to eating healthy carbs and don’t typically go over my goal intake.  My total carb count for the day was 154g.  My total calories were 1786.  The carbs that I took in included oatmeal, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, mozzarella cheese, walnuts, pineapples, 2 slices whole wheat bread, banana, peanut butter, and a protein bar.  I was able to get in a nice long workout today.  I worked out for about 1 1/2 hours and burned 1848 calories.  I trained back and shoulders.  I also did cardio and abs.

Day 3 (1/13/15)

As you can see, I’m looking a little “fluffier” this morning around my midsection due to the increased carb intake yesterday.  My weight remained consistent at 133 lbs.  I have an unexpected day off from work due to the weather.  Hopefully, I can still stick to the plan.  My plan is pretty much the same as it was Monday, my last low carb day.  Today, I did very well sticking to the eating plan.  I took in 72g of carbs.  However, I couldn’t push myself to get in a workout.  It was a lazy day of eating and sleeping.

Today, I did very well sticking to the eating plan.  I took in 72g of carbs.  However, I couldn’t push myself to get in a workout.  It was a lazy day of eating and sleeping.

Day 4 (1/14/15)

Looking fairly good after my low carb day.  My weight remains the same.  Today I took in 197g of carbs, all healthy carbs except one.  I decided to have a small bag of Cheetos.  Hey, what can I say?  It fit my macros, but that’s a topic of discussion for another day.  I did a callisthenic home workout along with some free weight sets for my arms.  I burned just over 1000 calories.

Day 5

Day 6

My thoughts:

Carb cycling is a great way to lose weight.  It helps you get rid of excess water weight as well as burn off more calories.

Looking at pictures, it seems as though my body peaked and looked its best at day 4.

If you are looking to make subtle changes over time, then the every other day cycle would be the route to take.

If you are looking for more drastic changes, then I would recommend 2-3 low carb days followed by 1 high carb day.

Bottom line, if you are looking to lose weight, carb cycling may be an option for you.

If my plan seems to loose or if you are looking for a more specific weight loss meal plan, you may want to check out this carb cycling book that includes recipe ideas.

If you happen to give it a try, let me know what you think.

day 1
jan 15