Protein Packed Breakfast Ideas

When it comes to breakfast, the average person tends to eat a very high carb, low protein meal, if they even eat breakfast at all. They may grab something like a bagel, a muffin, or a banana on the way out the door, all of which are completely lacking in protein and will most likely leave them hungry an hour later.

I advise all my clients to aim for at least 20 grams of protein with each meal and snack. Protein is going to keep you full longer than other macronutrients, and it has a higher TEF(thermic effect of food), which just means that it requires more calories to digest than carbs and fats. If fat loss or muscle building is your goal, you can’t go wrong with protein.

Here are some great breakfast ideas that are all super easy to make and NOT time consuming(a must for non-cooks/lazy people like me!):

-1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 2 hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit on the side

-Fruit smoothie: blend one scoop of whey protein, 1/4 cup blueberries, and 1/2 a banana with almond milk

-2 eggs + 2 egg whites scrambled with a tiny bit of low fat cheese, spinach, onions and pepper, mushrooms(could also make these into egg muffins/mini frittatas), and a cup of strawberries on the side

-Protein oats: cook 1/2 cup oats in water in the microwave, then mix in 1 tbsp peanut butter and 1 scoop whey protein, adding more water as needed to reach desired consistency

-Breakfast burrito: fill a low carb wrap(Flatout brand is a good one) with two scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup diced sautéed onions, and 1/4 cup of black beans. Then top with a tablespoon of pico de gallo or salsa

-Protein Pancakes: blend 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 4 egg whites,  and 1/2 tsp vanilla, and cook on the skillet like a pancake. Top with sugar free syrup or desired topping

-Egg “McMuffin”: boil or fry an egg (or 2) and toast a whole-wheat English muffin. Once the egg is cooked, layer 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese on top of the muffin and top with the egg

-French toast with yogurt: soak one slice of whole-grain bread in a beaten egg. Cook in a non-stick pan for approximately one minute on each side until lightly browned. Sprinkle with cinnamon (or any other favorite spice) and serve with 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt

-Reese cup “milkshake”: Blend 1/2 banana with a scoop of chocolate whey protein and 1 tbsp of peanut butter or powdered peanut butter. Eat the other half of the banana on the side.

It’s Never Too Late

I was talking with one of my personal training clients the other day, and that conversation inspired me to write this post.

People are often surprised to hear that the majority of people I train are in the 55-70 age range. I don’t know why, but I just seem to “connect” well with older women, and over the years I’ve really grown to enjoy training them the most.

I think one of the reasons is because with younger women, they usually just want weight loss, or a flatter stomach, or to get more “toned”. Nothing wrong with any of those things, but they aren’t really in the place in their lives where they’re thinking about health or their future quality of life -they just want to look better. Now, of course, this isn’t always the case, but it is what I’ve found to be true of most of the younger women I’ve trained.

Older women, however, often come to me with the initial goal of wanting to lose weight, but because they are at a different stage in life, they’re also usually at the point where they realize they have to focus more on their health. They are losing muscle, everything is sagging, they don’t the have energy or stamina they used to have, and their bodies are stiff and achey and not moving like they used to.

So what usually happens is that even if they initially come to me with weight loss as their main goal, after a few months, they start to realize how strength training is good for them in so many ways, which is what I was talking about with my client the other day. She hasn’t lost a ton of weight on the scale, but she now realizes the importance of strength training and maintaining muscle mass at her age. She was telling me how her stamina has improved, and how her posture and core strength is so much better, how things are getting firmer that used to be flabby.

The thing is, most older women know they may not ever have a 6 pack or be “skinny” like they used to be, but that’s no longer what they’re striving for. They just want to feel better and get stronger, and that is what is so great about training them. I love seeing them get stronger and begin to move better! Being able to take someone who has never lifted weights, or who can barely do a bodyweight squat, or maybe even can’t get up off of the ground on their own, and have them squatting with weight, doing pushups, deadlifts, and lunges, is a really cool thing to me. That’s really what it’s all about!

And I don’t train my clients like they’re fragile beings who can’t do anything. No, I have them lifting heavy. Of course, “heavy” is relative, but what I mean when I say that is that they are lifting what is heavy for THEM.

This fitness thing? It is so much more than 6 pack abs. It’s about:
preventing osteoperosis
-maintaining and building muscle
gaining the strength you need for every day activities
-increased stamina
-future quality of life
preventing diseases
-staying flexible and mobile
-decreasing risk of falls and injuries

And the awesome thing is, it doesn’t matter what age you are-it is literally NEVER too late to start. It’s never too late to reap the benefits of strength training. You CAN get stronger at any age. You CAN build muscle at any age. You CAN improve the way you move and feel and look at ANY age. I know because I’ve seen it.

Don’t just accept that your body is going to fall apart and wither away because that’s just what happens as you get older and there’s nothing you can do about it. There ABSOLUTELY is something you can do about it! It’s called strength training.

Five Exercises That Are Better Than Crunches

I see people at the gym on a daily basis, doing endless crunches and ab machines in hopes of having a flat stomach. It amazes me that there are so many people out there who still believe in spot reduction-the idea that doing a certain exercise that targets a specific area of your body will burn fat off of that area. I just wish I could tell them: if your goal is fat loss, it’s not going to work. Stop wasting your time! 

I never have my clients do crunches, with the exception of reverse crunches occasionally. Why? Well, because they are not effective, especially when it comes to burning belly fat. NO amount of crunches will give you a flat stomach. It just WON’T work. But what about strengthening the core? Well, in my opinion, there are much more effective exercises to use for that than crunches.

Crunches come in very LAST PLACE in strategies for getting a flat stomach or revealing 6 pack abs. Since you can’t target where you lose fat, it’s simply a matter of losing body fat all over. And losing body fat mostly comes down to your NUTRITION-more specifically, through lowering caloric intake. This should be the number one focus when it comes to losing body fat. With proper nutrition, you can actually achieve a flat stomach without doing a single crunch.

So, if crunches aren’t effective for burning belly fat, they don’t burn a significant amount of calories, and they aren’t the best exercise to strengthen the core, then WHY do them? Yes, you should train your abs to have a strong core and/or if you are seeking to build more defined abs. But if it’s fat you’re trying to get rid of, get your nutrition in check first.  Then, rather than wasting time doing crunches, here are five exercises you should be doing instead:

1)Pushups

What many people don’t realize is that pushups don’t only work the chest, arms, and shoulders, but the core as well. Any exercise that works multiple muscle groups will burn more calories than just isolating the abs.

2)Farmer’s walks

Grab a set of heavy dumbbells, walk for a minute, and see how high your heart rate goes up. Not only are you getting your heart rate up, you’re also highly engaging your core muscles, along with your forearms, shoulders, and upper back. Once again, the more muscles you’re engaging, the better, especially where fat loss is concerned.

3)Goblet squats

These are a great compound movement that basically works your whole body-legs, upper back, and core. Because of where you hold the dumbbell or kettlebell, your abs are forced to engage to hold your body upright.

4)Sprints or prowler pushes.

If fat loss is the goal, you can’t beat sprints or prowler pushes. Not only do you burn calories while doing them, but with short burst, high intensity cardio, your metabolism will continue to be slightly elevated after your workout.

5)Single arm movements(landmine press, single arm dumbbell press, single arm cable row, etc.) Any time you use only one side of your body, your core is activated in order to stabilize your body.

With each of these movements, your core is being worked along with other muscles in the body at the same time, which is best for burning the most calories. These are the type of movements that should make up the majority of your workouts, along with other compound movements, if a flat stomach is your goal. If you MUST, you can add in some ab isolation exercises into your workouts, but only if you have done these exercises first.

If you truly want to transform your body and get a smaller midsection, crunches are not the answer. Utilizing the above exercises, in combination with proper right nutrition will get you much closer to a flat stomach than crunches ever will.