Protein and meal replacements shakes

If you count your daily protein intake daily, and done some of the math you might be a little concerned on how much protein you need to get in per day.  Just how much chicken and fish can you eat?  Relax guys,  there is an alternative to eating all your protein.  Protein shakes are a great way to supplement your meals, or even replace one or two.  But be warned, all protein shakes are NOT created equal.

Why is it that a nutrition company may sell a 1 ½ pound canister of protein powder for $45 but a big box store will sell a 2 pound canister for less than $20?  Well, I’m not rocket scientist, but I’m gonna have to go with one is filled with high quality protein powder, and the other has lots of inexpensive fillers that may or may not have any semblance to protein.

There is also a difference between a meal replacement shake and a protein shake.  Meal replacements have a selection of your vitamins and minerals, with some proteins and carbs.  Protein shakes are mostly protein, with a few supplements added in.  When I make my shakes, I use both a meal replacement powder and a protein powder.  That way I make sure I’m getting the best of both worlds.  The best part is, the brand of products I use give me a healthy meal (lots of vitamins and minerals) with a minimum of 27 grams of protein, 9 grams of sugar (fructose – the good stuff), and all for around 200 calories.

This is a great area to practice your new skills as a label reader.  Make sure you’re getting what you want, and not a bunch of stuff you don’t, and that goes for excess sugar as well.  Many inexpensive powders on the market use too much sugar (in many forms) to make their product palatable, and we’re trying to avoid those empty calories.

You can also make your own smoothies at home.  Some fruits, vegetables, maybe some soy or almond milk, blend them up and presto.  A healthy smoothie!  A few things to remember though; too much fruit equals too much sugar.  Yes it’s fructose,  and it’s a good sugar, but too much is still too much.  Also, watch your food waste.  Some fresh fruits and veggies don’t have a long shelf life, so either make those smoothies, or toss that produce.

If you are going to make your own, I prefer using a blender (a good blender), and not a juicer.  Most juicers press out the liquid and discard the pulp.  That pulp that gets thrown away has most of your vitamins and minerals, and you’re losing all that fiber (did I mention we need more fiber?).  A blender will just grind up all that produce, fiber and all, so you’re getting all the goodness of your foods, and not just the liquids.

One last thing on smoothies.  PLEASE avoid commercial / chain smoothie shops.  If you can’t, or don’t want to avoid them, make sure that you check their nutritional info.  Most chain smoothies use a freaky amount of sugar, syrups, and add ons, in their smoothies.  If you’re not careful that “Healthy” smoothie is going to cost you between 400 and 800 calories!  And if you’re on 1,200 calories per day, that’s a big chunk of your day, in one glass.

Please leave your thoughts, comments, or suggestions below, or contact me directly at


Meal prep doesn’t have to be expensive 

How many times have I heard “But eating well is so expensive!”?  WRONG!  With a little planning and smart shopping you can eat healthy for less that $4 per meal.  Sure you can spend more, but you don’t have to.  Or “Fixing healthy meals is hard work, and I don’t have time!”  Again, I’m gonna go with – WRONG!

I started meal prepping about a year ago.  In one evening I usually make six meals to get me through the week.  In my case, it’s been the lunches I take to work.  That allows me to have a healthy meal, mid-day without spending much time or money each day.  I have friends that prep for two meals a day, which saves them tons of work through the week.

Whether you make six of the same meal, or three of this and three of that, doesn’t really matter.  With a little planning, the work (and the clean up) is about the same.  If you prep all your meals for the week, say twelve to fourteen, you can make three or four different things and mix and match so you don’t get bored.  Just pick items that can be cooked together.  Let’s take a look.

First we’ll look at pricing.  I buy my chicken (protein)  from a store where their prices are fair, and the chicken isn’t all steroids and filler.  Let’s be real,  some of the chicken breast out there are huge, and you should know chickens don’t normally get that big.  I pay less than $3.00 per pound (and I eat a lot of chicken?) and I get around three pounds at a time ($9.00).  Next I’ll pick up a two pound bag of brown rice (complex carbs).  This may set me back another $2.00, but I’ll get several servings from it.  Finally I’ll add in some broccoli or green beans.  I’ll admit it, I get lazy sometimes and buy frozen, and a large bag may cost me $3.00, but again, I’ll get two meal preps out of it.  Add in a little extra virgin olive oil, and some seasonings, and we’re ready to go.  So if we do the math it looks something like this:

Chicken     $9.00

Rice           $0.70

Veggies     $1.50

Or a total cost of $11.20, from which I get six meals, for a cost of $1.86 each.  Yep, eating healthy is soooooo expensive.

“Well, yeah, but there’s all that time to cook and clean up!”  Once again, I’m going to have to disagree.  I’ve done this enough to know that it takes me about 45 minutes to prepare and cook everything, and maybe another ten to fifteen minutes for the clean up.  And most of that 45 minutes is cook time, as in, you could be doing something else while your stove is doing all the work.  Even still that hour averages out to ten minutes per meal.  How else are you going to prepare a healthy meal in ten minutes?

Sure if you do multiple foods, it may take a few minutes longer to prep, but if you use the same cook temperature, you can throw everything in the oven and pull them out as they are ready.  You can even add in sweet potatoes (a complex carb), they can bake in the oven while your proteins are cooking.  Just get creative!

One final thought on meal prep.  Six or seven days is pushing the freshness envelope.  I keep a few days worth of meals in the fridge, and freeze the rest.  Once you have used up the meals in the fridge, pull out the frozen ones, and your set for the next few days.

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The Dirty Dozen / The Clean Fifteen 

The Dirty Dozen isn’t just a really cool movie from the 60’s.  It’s also a list of the commercially grown produce most likely to be covered in pesticides.  If these foods are on your nutrition plan, your best bet is to buy organic.  And don’t necessarily trust the produce at a farmers market either.  Many times (not always, but often) they buy their produce at the local wholesale produce markets and resell it to you.  Caveat Emptor.  So what does the list look like for 2017?  Well here is the list as published by

Strawberries, Spinach, Nectarines, Apples, Peaches,  Pears, Cherries, Grapes, Celery, Tomatoes, Sweet Bell Peppers and Potatoes

Again, these are the twelve items of commercially grown produce that are likely to be covered in pesticides.  As I said, if you can buy the organic versions, you’ll be healthier in the long run.  If you can’t find their organic counterparts, make sure you thoroughly wash / soak your produce to remove as much of the pesticides as possible.

The Clean Fifteen, are just the opposite.  While you can buy these organic, commercially grown non-organic options are generally pesticide free.  let’s take a look at this list.

Sweet Corn*, Avocados, Pineapples, Cabbage, Onions, Sweet Peas (frozen), Papayas*, Asparagus, Mangos, Eggplant, Honeydew Mellon, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower and Grapefruit

* “A small amount of sweet corn and papaya sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.”

I’m not a big fan of eating anymore poison that absolutely necessary.  By knowing what produce is “safe” and which is “suspect” you can make better informed choices for you and your family.

Comments, suggestions, thoughts?  Please leave them below, or contact me at

Healthy Shopping – Stay on the Perimeter of the Store 

OK, if you’ve been following me for a while, you’re getting the idea that I’m not a fan a manufactured foods.  But I am a big fan of food,  and the cleaner it is,  the better it.  When it comes time to buy your food, where do you go?  Ideally,  you can get your foods from trusted locally sourced vendors like, farm stands, butchers, fish markets, etc.  Sadly for many of us this isn’t always available, and we’re off to the local supermarket.

The good news is that natural / health oriented supermarkets are becoming more commonplace.  And even if you don’t have a Trader Joes, or Fresh Market near by, most larger chains are carrying a better selection of healthy options: organic, gluten free, non-GMO, etc.  But what if your local grocer hasn’t kept up with the times?

The key to healthy buying in an average grocery store is to shop on the perimeter.  If you go into any supermarket you’ll see the same thing.  The center of the store is full of manufactured foods, and the perimeter is where all the real food is kept.  Fruits and vegetables,  meat and poultry, seafood, and dairy are at the sides of pretty much every store I’ve been in.  You may also find the deli and the bakery, but feel free to bypass those!

Yes, you may need to venture into the isles for one or two items, but pick up what you need and get back to the land of real foods.  You may have to go into the cereal isle for oatmeal, but avoid making eye contact with the Lucky Charms!  And it’s OK to go in the isle to pick up your brown rice, but leave the pre-packaged pilaf for the uninitiated.

I hope this article was helpful and informative.  If you liked it, please share it with your friends and family.  And if you have any comments or suggestions, drop them below, or contact me at 

What to Look for on Nutrition Facts / Labels   

So I keep mentioning the evils of processed or manufactured foods.  When you get started on a healthy lifestyle, it’s helpful to be a label reader.  You want to know what you’re putting in your body, and you can get a lot of info from the nutrition label and the list of ingredients on any food that you buy.  If you don’t know how those ingredients lists work, the items are listed by the amount in the product, with the highest quantity items first, down to the smallest additions.  Basically,  the more there is, the higher on the list.

Nutrition Lable 1

This random label I got off the net is pretty good.  It only has a few ingredients, and you’re pretty sure what they all are, or at least you can pronounce most of them.  Now for a more typical label.

Nutrition Lable 2

Beyond the fact that most of this stuff is unpronounceable, it also tells us that this item (again, I have no idea what this is) is full of processed flour, multiple types of sugars, lots of chemicals and FIVE different food colorings?  How bad was the manufacturing process, that in order to make this product attractive they needed to add all that color?  Shouldn’t food be,  I don’t know, food colored?

This seems like a good time to bring in an explanation of the Nutrition Label on your foods.  You see, we’re not just interested in what the ingredients are, we as newly empowered label readers what to know more.  I’m going to point out a few key areas for you to know about when you’re looking at your facts.


Let’s start at the very top, where it says “Serving Size” and “Servings Per Container”.  This is where a lot of us get in trouble.  Just because a package may be small, it may be more than one serving.  In this case,  the serving size is ½ cup and there are 3 ½ servings per container.  OK,  keep that in mind for a minute.

Next, in small print, it says “Amount Per Serving”.  This shows us how many calories, fats, protein, etc. PER SERVING.  Not per container. Let’s take a look at what numbers are important to us.  So you know,  these facts are laid out in a standard format, there may be more info on some items, but the order will basically be the same.

First we have Calories, and in this case, one serving is 280 calories, with 160 of those coming from fat.   Next it shows you the amount of “Total Fat”, again here it is 18 grams.  That is made up of Saturated Fats, Trans Fats, and apparently Mystery Fats (to make up the other 6.5 missing grams).

Next we see Cholesterol and Sodium.  We want to keep these fairly low in our nutrition plan, and they are even more important to those with circulatory issues.  If that’s you,  your doctor will give you a better idea of what numbers to watch for.

Next we have “Total Carbohydrates”, which we see broken down into “Dietary Fiber” and “Sugars”.  Yes we need carbs, you definitely need fiber (remember, most people only get half of what they need per day) and no, we don’t need much sugar.

They saved the best for last – “Protein”!  Here one serving give us 4 grams of protein.  Not bad for a snack.

Other things you may find on the list.  After proteins you may find a list of vitamins and minerals.  You’ll also notice that there is a column of “% of Daily Value” and a percentage next to most or all of the items we talked about.  This is the percentage of each item that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended you take in daily.  In this example, there is 55% of your total daily intake of saturated fats in one serving.  That’s a lot for a snack.

So let’s go back to that serving size / serving per container thing.  If you mistook this small container of ice cream for a single serving (and we’ve all done it), you’d have to multiply each of the numbers on the Nutrition Label by 3.5 (the number of servings in this container)!  So that eating this entire container would have:

980 calories

63 grams of fat

262.5 milligrams of sodium

77 grams of sugar

And only 14 grams of protein

It pays to understand the labels, and know how many servings a product has.  That one small tub of ice cream could be nearly half of your calories for the day, but they would be a poor choice to keep you fueled and healthy.

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Are Your Beverages Worth the Calories?

Calorie only come from food, right?  Uhm………NO!  Pretty much if it goes in your mouth, it can affect your waist.  The most misunderstood calories are those that you drink.  That Latte,  soda,  or adult beverage you drank all have a calorie count associated with it, and for the most part have little or no nutritional value to them.  Shall we take a look at a few common beverages and their caloric values?

Beverage Est. Calories
Soda – 12 oz 150
Sweet Tea – 16 oz 90
Orange Juice – 8 oz 112
Latte – 1 medium 135
Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino – 20 oz 500
Beer – 12 oz 153
Light Beer – 12 oz 103
Wine – 5 oz 125
80 proof Spirits – 1.5 oz 97
Champagne – 4 oz 84
Pina Colada – 9 oz 490
Black Coffee – 1 medium 5
Tea 0
Water 0


I’m not saying you can’t have any of these things.  What I am suggesting is that you look closely at your beverage selection.  Is that Mocha Frappuccino worth a quarter of your days calories?  Tossing back a few beers, say 3, will cost you upwards of 459 calories.    And a glass of wine is fine, just know that the cork can go back in the bottle.

You may have noticed that at the bottom of the chart I included a few better options.  My personal favorites are tea and water.  That’s about all I drink, not counting my hydration beverages for working out.  Did I mention that I drink a lot of water?  For those of you who have Aquaphobia (it’s a real thing, I looked it up!), or a fear of drinking water, or you just don’t “like the taste”, try infusing your water with strawberries, mint, watermelon, cucumbers, anything.  Play around with different fruits, veggies and herbs.  Find flavors you do like, and drink that (calorie free) water!

You may have also noticed I didn’t list any sugar free, calorie free beverages.  Why, because that stuff will kill you!.  Remember what I talked about with sugars.  You’re body can’t properly digest the fake stuff, so PLEASE don’t drink it.

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Treat Meals not Cheat Meals 

So you’ve worked really hard all week.  You’ve followed your nutrition plan (I’ll explain those in an upcoming article), you’ve followed your exercise program (whatever that is for you), and now you think “I’m going to celebrate; it’s time for a ‘cheat’ meal”.  First off, let’s look at the phrase “cheat meal”.  According to, cheat means “to defraud, swindle or deceive”.  It seems like cheating is a negative thing.  In life, and especially when we’re trying to better ourselves (like trying to lose weight), we need to avoid as much negativity as possible.  So does that mean no celebrating that great week?  Of course not!

How about celebrating with a “treat meal”, or just a treat?  Going back to, we find that treat is defined as “Anything that affords particular pleasure or enjoyment”.  Now that sounds like something I can get behind.

Now that we know what to call our little gastronomic celebrations, what are we going to do about it?  Like I said, you could go out and have that whole pizza and six beers.  Or maybe half a cheesecake, or whatever your go to decadence is.  Then again, is all the work you put in, worth a 2,000 (or more) calorie setback?

So as I mentioned, go out and have one slice of pizza, and a beer.  A really good beer that you’ll enjoy.  Or that cheesecake, have a few bites (only put a sliver on your plate – you don’t want to tempt yourself).  See, the thing is, after a few bites, your brain is saying, “wow, that was good”, and you can stop there.  you don’t need more.  Again, the brain got it’s “fix”, your mouth got it’s taste, and you saved a PILE of calories.  Winner, winner, (baked) chicken dinner!

It’s all about keeping your mind, and your journey as positive as you can!

I hope you enjoyed today’s article.  Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.  You can comment below, or contact me at

Getting healthy? You don’t have to go without!

After my last article on sugar, this seems like a good segway into going without.  How many times have you started a diet, and had to put all the things you love in the trash?  Get them out of the house, and as long as you on this diet they will not pass your lips.  And then the cravings come, but you’re strong!  You hold out a week, then two but finally your one weakness calls to you and you can’t take it anymore.  Next thing you know, you’ve devoured an entire cheesecake by yourself.  Your diet is shot to Hell, and you figure “what’s the use, I might as well give up”.  Well not on my watch!

See, here’s the thing.  We all have that one or two things we just can’t live without.  For me, it’s pizza and beer.  For you maybe sweets, or chips, or whatever.  This is what I tell my clients, and I’ll tell you the same thing.  If you want it, have it, but there is a catch.  I used to eat a pizza, now I have some pizza (rarely do I have more than 2 slices these days).  Rather than have a huge slice of cake, just cut off a few bites.  And don’t have your special food all the time either.  Once or twice a month is enough.  It will keep the cravings away, with out messing up all you hard work.

You’re mind will get the sensation, your mouth will get the flavor, and the craving will be satiated, without taking in way too many calories, and probably empty ones at that.  Don’t try to fight off the craving, trust me, you’ll lose every time.  Use your favorite food as the occasional treat, you’ll enjoy it more than you might believe.

Thoughts, comments or questions?  Please let me know.  Post below or contact me directly at

Sugar in your diet / Glucose, sucrose, fructose and the demon HFCS 

Yep, sugar.  You were hoping I was going to skip right over this weren’t you.  Nope, not gonna happen!  Why?  Sugar is the enemy!   Added sugar is mostly just empty calories.   Studies says the average man should take in about 9 teaspoons per day, and women 6 teaspoons per day (all day, from real food!).  One 20 ounce bottle of soda or sweet tea can have as much as 17 teaspoons, and the average teen drinks at least two sodas per day.

And don’t give me that “But I don’t use sugar, I use (enter your brand of fake sugar here: SweetNLow, Splenda, Equal, etc.)!”  If you are using manufactured (oooo, there’s that word again) sugar, or drinking diet soda, or eating sugar free anything……..STOP!  Your body doesn’t know what to do with those chemicals.  You can digest (natural) sugar, but not the chemical equivalent.  Some of the chemicals do get passed through your system.  Others however just get stored away, a little in this cell, a little in that cell, and then just fester in there and infect or kill off the cell.  I’m no scientist, but dying or sick cells sound like a pretty prevalent disease to me.  If you’re drinking sugar free drinks, switch to “regular” drinks (with sugar), and then we’ll wean you off those.  First, let’s get the chemical crap out of your system.

This should come as no surprise, there are good sugars and bad sugars.  The good sugars include fructose, glucose, lactose, and maltose.

Fructose is found in fruits, honey and root vegetables.  It is a simple sugar, and while it sweetens your food it doesn’t create a glycemic response.  That’s a fancy way of saying it is OK for diabetics as it doesn’t affect their (or your) blood sugar levels.

Glucose is the main source of energy for the body and it’s created when we digest carbs.  If you see Dextrose on your list of ingredients (well get into that in an upcoming article, don’t’ worry), that is a form of glucose.

Lactose is found in milk products and Maltose is found in molasses.  While these aren’t bad sugars, they might not be your best choices.  Many people have sensitivities to lactose, and molasses tends to have lots of extra “goodies” added in that aren’t always beneficial to a weight loss program.

Sucrose is most commonly known as  table sugar or granulated sugar.  Yes it comes from nature, from sugar cane or sugar beets, but it’s still highly processed, and not your best bet either.

The black sheep of the sugar family is most commonly known as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  Again, it comes from corn, but that doesn’t mean it is safe – far from it!  HFCS is so prevalent in our manufactured foods that we’re almost drowning in it. This is a manufactured product and our body does not deal with it like it does simple sugars.  Study after study has linked the use of HFCS to nutrient poor diseases, obesity, diabetes and more.

Hearing that HFCS is bad for you, probably came as no surprise.  Even the United States Corn Growers Association knows we know, and they tried to change the name to “Corn Syrup”, but the United States Food and Drug Administration shut them down.  In the name of creative marketing, some manufacturers found other catchy names for this crap.  When you’re reading labels (again, we’ll get to that soon) keep an eye out for: Maize Syrup, Glucose Syrup, Glucose / Fructose Syrup, Tapioca Syrup, Dahlia Syrup, Fruit Fructose, Crystalline Fructose, and more.  YIKES!

If you must sweeten your food, I recommend using things close to nature.  Fruit, honey or stevia.  But make sure what your getting is what you think.  There are lots of fakes out there. Fruit shouldn’t be packed in syrup, honey shouldn’t have more than one ingredient, and stevia is being “manipulated” to make it more cost effective (read cheap to produce).  Read your labels (I know, we haven’t gotten there yet, but we will)!

Now I’m not saying you can never have sweets.  What I am suggesting, is you keep your sweet intake to a minimum, keep it as close to nature as you can, and when you do have something decedent, have a taste, and don’t overdo it.  On occasion, I have a bite of cake.  But rest assured,  if I’m going to have a sweet, it’s gonna be good.  Not some Betty Crocker cake, but a real bakery made, (small) slice of heaven.  Don’t cheat your treat!

Please let me know what you thought about this article.  Post a quick note, comment or idea.  And if you enjoyed it, or found it useful, please share it with your friends and family.

How much water do we really need each day?

Water is the source of life on earth, and often the source of many peoples weight loss struggles.  Most people just don’t get enough fluids per day.  You may have heard that you need to drink a gallon of water every day.  This may be a good goal, but that’s average across the board, and could be way different than your actually needs.

First lets look at why water intake is important.  First, it helps to flush impurities out of your system.  Yes, you’ll pee a lot, but you need to get the gunk out of your system (and yes, that is a technical term….well, sort of).  Second, insufficient water intake leads to dehydration, and that leads to poor skin quality, constipation, muscle damage, organ damage, kidney stones, and water retention.  Yes, not drinking enough water causes the body to hold onto to every drop you give it, because it’s not sure when it will receive more (just like Starvation Mode when you don’t eat enough, but with water).

Since our goal is to feel better and get those results, it’s time to figure out how much water you really need.  This is a simple math formula.  Divide your weight in half, and that is the number of ounces you should drink per day.  As an example, a 200 pound man should drink (a minimum) of 100 ounces of water per day.   If you are working out, or you have a job where you sweat (or you’re just chasing the kids around) you need to bump that number up.  Remember, that with water, more is better.  I tend to drink a lot of water.  For my size I should take in minimum of 80 ounces per day.  I usually have closer to 160 (did I mention I like water?).

Don’t freak out on me over this, it’s not just water.  You can have other fluids as well.  If you drink tea or (black) coffee, that counts.  Use caution with coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages however.  Caffeine is a diuretic, so you may actually have to bump you intake to make up for it.  A cup is OK, more than that, you’re pushing it.  If you have a smoothie, that counts too.  It’s a total amount of fluids that we’re looking for.  Preferably,  good healthy,  low in calorie, non-alcoholic fluids.

I’m going to add this in, because it always comes up.  “Can’t I die by drinking all that water?”  Technically yes,  you can become seriously ill or die from water intoxication,  but a 160 pound man would have to drink over 1 ½ gallons of water in a matter of hours.  And since most of my clients struggle to get in a gallon all day, I’m not too worried about you suffering from water intoxication.

In an upcoming article, I’ll talk about calories in your beverages.  For now just know that fluid intake is important.  Water is great, but watch your other choices, especially if your calorie count is important.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below, or contact me directly.