Tag Archives: sportsnutrition

5 Reasons You Should Supplement BCAAs

If you’ve ever taken a lap around the weight floor of your gym then you’ve probably seen a sea of shaker bottles filled with mysterious, colorful beverages. There’s a high probability that these fitness enthusiasts are drinking BCAAs during their workouts. BCAAs and other amino acid supplements offer a helpful boost on the weight floor, track, field, court, etc. Here are 5 reasons you should consider including BCAAs into your supplement circulation:

1. Regenerate lean muscle tissue.

The purpose of BCAAs is to help regenerate muscle tissue damaged by the stress of exercising. Sipping BCAAs continuously throughout your workout provides a steady, continuous drip of quickly absorbable leucine, isoleucine, and valine directly to the muscle for repair. The BCAAs I take, Scivation Xtend or Scivation Xtend Perform, also include Glutamine, Citrulline, and Peak02 (Scivation’s patented ingredient for their Perform line).

2. Maintain lean muscle while burning fat on a diet.

Preservation of lean muscle is critical when embarking on a fat loss diet. Sacrificing your hard earned results in order to burn a layer of belly fat is counter intuitive. BCAAs help you maintain lean muscle while you burn the layer of fat on top of the muscle.

Advice: drink BCAAs while you perform High Intensity Interval (HIIT) Training, Sprintervals, or Cardio Acceleration workouts to decrease your chances of burning muscle in the name of burning fat

3. Decrease fatigue time.

Needing 60 seconds to recover versus needing 45 seconds to recover is sometimes all it takes to spark significant changes in your physique. BCAAs help by buffering lactic acid build up and instantly repairing muscle tissue micro-tears. Amino Acids like Beta-Alanine, Citrulline, and Agmatine help buffer lactic acid and increase blood flow through vasodilation. Look for a Pre-Workout with Beta-Alanine and/or Agmatine, and an Intra-Workout with BCAAs & Citrulline.

4. Improve hydration.

Studies show that people generally drink more water when it’s ice cold and flavored (hence the explosion of water flavoring products over the last several years). Fill up your shaker bottle with ice, 1 scoop of BCAAs, and water and sip throughout your workout. Most BCAA supplements include a proprietary blend of electrolytes to help replenish what you sweat out.

Click here for more tricks to improve hydration. 

5. Decrease recovery time.

BCAAs help decrease the amount of time needed to recover following a workout so it may take 1-2 days to fully recover as opposed to 2-3/4 days. I generally enjoy a scoop of BCAAs with 24 oz of ice cold water on my rest days to help my body stay hydrated and repair beat up muscle tissue. I also follow my 4 keys to faster recovery and my 4 ways to heal sore muscles.

For more advice, recipes, and awesome workouts check out my Instagram and Facebook page! Follow me on Twitter now too: @acurtisfitness.

Why You Can’t Gain Weight

Believe it or not, not being able to put on weight is a very common problem for gym-goers. I’ve heard the tired line “I just can’t gain weight” time and time again from Skinnies (ectomorphs). They claim that they eat massive quantities of food every day yet can’t seem to shift the numbers on the scale. Here’s what you may be doing wrong if you’re “suffering” from this problem:

1. You’re Not Eating Enough “Big” Meals.

Maybe you eat 1 or 2 seemingly big meals (500+ calories/meal) but for the rest of the day you either don’t really eat or your meals are significantly smaller (200 calories/meal). By the end of the day you may only be taking in 2500 calories when you really need closer to 3500 calories to pack on some mass. Eating five 700 calorie meals per day to get to that 3500 calorie intake is easier than choking down three 1000+ calorie meals. Chances are you can get two of those big meals down but then you’re coming up short for the rest of the day.

The Truth Behind IIFYM

2. You’re Not Consistent 7 Days/Week.

If my first point doesn’t apply to you and you actually are eating 5 big meals per day, my next thought is that you’re hitting a calorie surplus 4 or 5 days per week but those other 2-3 days you’re coming up short. Very short. By the end of the week your weight is the same because you aren’t maintaining a consistent surplus calorie intake to keep up with your metabolism.

3. You Make Eating A Lot of Calories a Chore.

I know people that used to choke down 2 cups of oatmeal and 4 plain eggs, or 2 cups of rice and 8 oz. of plain grilled chicken to meet their macro needs. Scrolling through Instagram you may find meal preppers with a hundred tupperware containers filled with asparagus and tilapia. Bland, uninspired meals make gaining weight (and losing weight) much harder than it needs to be. Include calorie dense foods to your plate to get more out of each bite.

Click here for Healthy High Protein Recipes.

4. You’re Actually Not Eating Big Meals

This is probably the most common mistake out of them all, your meals aren’t actually that big. You could be eating 5, 6, even 10 meals per day but if you’re not hitting a calorie surplus by the end of the day you’re not going to gain any weight. An easy way to figure out how big your meals should be find out how many calories you need per day to gain weight and divide those calories by the amount of meals you want to eat per day (I recommend 4-6).

Click here to find out how many calories you need to lose, maintain, or gain weight.

Here are some tips on how to pack in extra calories in your meals without feeling disgustingly full:

+ Add 2 tbsp. peanut/almond butter to your meals wherever necessary.
+ Add 1 extra tbsp. of olive oil to grilled meats and vegetables.
+ Add an extra protein shake to your diet: 1-2 scoops whey, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream, 8 oz skim milk, 1 tbsp. peanut butter.

Check out some of the big meals on my Instagram.

4 Ways to Cut Water Weight Fast

Have you ever eaten chinese food late at night just to wake up with puffy eyes and a bloated belly? Eating salty food can cause you to retain water under the skin which looks a lot like body fat. Obviously the best thing you can do is not eat high sodium food like chinese food, chips, processed food, etc., but for the sake of this post I’ll teach you how to cut that water weight. Here are 4 Ways to Cut Water Weight Fast:

1. Drink Coconut Water

Coconut water is high in potassium which helps excrete excess sodium from the body. Really as long as you increase your potassium intake you’ll help get that excess sodium out of the body but coconut water is also a fantastic way to hydrate so I give it precedence.

2. Drink 1-2 cups of coffee or tea, but no more than 2.

We all know that coffee & tea contain caffeine, which is a diuretic. That means that they’ll help you excrete excess fluid, but be careful not to overdo it. Too much coffee or tea and your body will respond by holding onto water to prevent dehydration. 1-2 cups will be enough to flush out some excess water without risking provoking that opposite effect.

3. Sweat it out.

This is pretty obvious right? But if you’re eating Chinese food late at night chances are you aren’t in the mood to hit the treadmill. Hit it anyway. Do 20 minutes of cardio and then sit in the sauna for 10-15 minutes. You’ll feel incredible burning off that junk food, plus you’ll sweat out that water weight and excess sodium.

4. Drink lots of water.

Aim for 0.5 to 1 ounce per lb of bodyweight to flush out the excess sodium in your system. By drinking more water you’re encouraging your body to release more water through excretion. Couple that with the caffeine from your tea or coffee and you’ll be cutting out that water weight in no time.

cut water weight scivation xtend jug club
Scivation’s Water Jug Holds about 1/2 Gallon and is easy to carry! Great way to track how much you’re drinking each day.

cut water weight scivation xtend jug club

Put all 4 pieces together and you’ll keep your body hydrated while you cut the water weight that’s disguising itself as bodyfat. And again, the best way to prevent putting on a lot of water weight is to avoid salty, processed foods and take out. It’s bound to happen sometime though so you might as well be prepared.

Check out my Instagram and Facebook page for more advice, awesome recipes, and workouts!

The Only Green Smoothie Recipe You Need

I tried my first Green Smoothie over the weekend and got hooked. I wanted to make one for myself and tailor to my goals. This recipe takes 30 seconds to make and provides 1.5 servings of protein, 1 serving of vegetables, 1 serving of fruit. It’s low fat, low carb and will keep you feeling full and healthy all day. Are you sold yet? Here it is:

Boost this smoothie with Green Tea Matcha antioxidants

Tropical Green Smoothie 

green protein smoothie vegetables spinach fruitIngredients
* add the following ingredients to your blender in order (hardest ingredients go farthest from the blades)
1 serving frozen tropical fruit mix (pineapple, kiwi, strawberry, mango and papaya)
1 tbsp. flax or chia seed
1 cup of raw spinach
1 scoop vanilla or strawberry whey protein
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup of water (or orange juice if you want a sweeter smoothie)

Nutrition Info
Protein: 32 grams
Carbohydrates: 21 grams
Fat: 5 grams

Click here to try another smoothie recipe!

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Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie (Recipe)

Check out this easy Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie recipe that you can make in under 5 minutes. I made mine as a pre-workout meal and it kept me feeling satisfied for over 3 hours! This is what you need:

1.5 scoops Strawberry whey protein
1/4 cup strawberries
1/2 medium banana
1 tbsp. chia seed
1/4 cup low fat vanilla frozen yogurt

1) Combine all ingredients in a blender.
2) Blend until contents are smooth and evenly dispersed.

Nutrition Info
335 calories
Protein: 36 g
Carbohydrates: 32 g
Fat: 7 g

This is a great recipe if you want a quick protein-fix first thing in the morning, before your workout, after your workout or as a late-night snack. Try it out and let me know how you like it!

Check out my Instagram and Facebook for more high protein recipes, awesome workouts, and a product give-away opportunities!

The 80/20 Diet Rule

This is by far the easiest diet you’ll ever do. The 80/20 rule was something I was used to doing but never really thought about until I took my EXOS Performance Specialist Certification. EXOS (formerly Athlete’s Performance) coined the 80/20 diet rule for athletes to follow. It’s a means to eat clean but also enjoy life so you don’t feel deprived. Here’s how it works

80% of your diet comes from clean, unprocessed, whole sources.

You’ll eat whole vegetables, whole fruit (not canned, jarred, pickled, etc.), fresh meat, nuts, and other whole sources of foods. The majority of your diet will be clean and used for fueling your workouts and daily activities.

20% of your diet is flexible.

This is the part of your diet where you can eat things like ice cream, cheeseburgers, fries, and the foods that you crave, that feed your soul. This 20% portion provides incredible mental relief and gives you the opportunity to go out to dinner with your family, get a drink with your friends, and not feel guilty.

Here’s how you can structure the 80/20 rule in your diet:
1. Out of 5 meals per day, 1 meal is flexible. 4/5 meals = 80% clean, 20% soul food.
2. Out of 7 days per week, 1 day is flexible. 6/7 = 85% clean, 15% soul food.

The Benefits of the 80/20 Rule (as defined by EXOS)

EXOS 80/20 rule exosfuel nutrition sports nutrition diet

Check out my Instagram and Facebook for more diet advice, great workouts, and occasional product giveaways and promo codes!

Does Your Pre-Workout Have These Ingredients?

Does your pre-workout have the necessary ingredients to deliver the energy you need to give 110% in your workouts? Most pre-workouts have intense names like C4 and N.O Xplode, but then fall short when it comes to delivering the serious pump you’re craving. When I look for pre-workouts, or recommend pre-workouts I generally look for these ingredients:

1. Caffeine (Obviously)

There are caffeine-free pre-workouts available on the market but I personally haven’t used them and don’t plan on it. Then, there are the polar opposite of these pre-workouts on the market: pre-workouts with 300+ mg of caffeine. I drink coffee throughout the day so, when I shop for a pre-workout, I generally look for a caffeine dose of roughly 150 mg. It can be a little more or less but I’ve found that 150 mg is more than enough to increase my alertness and focus.

2. Beta Alanine

At this point, I don’t even seriously consider taking a pre-workout without at least 1 g of Beta Alanine per serving. Beta Alanine acts as a fatigue (lactic acid) buffer which helps you workout with more intensity and for a longer duration. MyProtein My Pre packs a powerful Beta Alanine punch and meets my caffeine criteria. So does Neon Sport Volt, which is another one of my favorite pre-workouts.

3. Citrulline Malate

Citrulline Malate is another serious fatigue fighter. By reducing the amount of ammonia in the blood, Citrulline may help postpone lactic acid build up. Studies have also shown that excess Citrulline in the blood may lead to increased arginine in the blood resulting in greater NO production (a.k.a a bigger pump).

4. Creatine (optional)

Depending on your physique and your goals, creatine may be a fantastic ingredient for you and luckily it’s in almost every relevant pre-workout (in relatively small doses) so you’ll probably get it one way or another.  From my own experience, I’ve found creatine to be very useful for heavy sets of  1-3 reps. As far as aesthetics go, I’ve actually benefited from stopping my intake of creatine to look drier, more lean, and I’ve seen greater vascular and striation visibility.

These are the Pre-Workouts I’m mainly interested in now:

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Thanks to my friends at MyProtein for hooking me up with your MYPRE to test out. I’ll be giving a full review of it soon!

Check out my Instagram and Facebook Page for awesome recipes and creative exercises!



Kodiak Cakes High Protein Cookies Recipe

Check out these Kodiak Cakes High Protein Cookies made with dark chocolate, oats, and Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Mix.

This was my first time making Kodiak Cakes High Protein cookies and they came out great. One thing I want to try is replacing some, if not all, of the butter with applesauce or plain greek yogurt which would significantly reduce the saturated fat content without losing too much moisture. Try it out, experiment and let me know how you like it!

Kodiak Cakes high protein cookiesIngredients
1 1/2 cup Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Mix®
1 scoop whey protein
1 cup quick oats
6 oz special dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup  brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

+ Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and egg until smooth.
+ Blend the quick oats and Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Mix, then add to the sugar and butter mixture.
+ Stir in the chocolate chips.
+ Bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Check out the original recipe here and absolutely, definitely, 100% buy the Power Cakes mix. It’s fantastic. I believe they sell it in Costco, Target and Walmart now. So worth it if you want guilt free pancakes.

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3 Easy Ways to Increase Your Energy

Want to be more productive every day? Want to create some momentum early in the morning and keep the ball rolling throughout the day? Tired of feeling slow and lethargic? Here are a few easy ways to stay charged up and in control during the day.

1. Balance Your Blood Sugar

If you want to keep your energy stable throughout the day then you need to first look at what you’re eating and when you’re eating. If your breakfasts consists of a bagel with cream cheese, a coffee and some fruit, then you’re looking at a perfect recipe to crash in 4 hours or less. Loading up on carbs might feel great at first because it spikes your blood sugar and consequently, your insulin, but once your insulin goes to work, your blood sugar may crash leaving you feeling sluggish. Balance your blood sugar by eating 1 small portion of complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc.) multiple times throughout the day to keep your blood sugar balanced.

2. Control your Caffeine Intake

Even I have this problem. I physically can’t wake up in the morning without a cup of coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that, but 5 hours later I’m back to feeling mentally cloudy. An easy solution to this problem is to start off with a cup of coffee and then switch to a couple cups of green or earl grey tea throughout the day. Reason being that tea has less caffeine than coffee, and it’s a much more mild sense of stimulation (for me anyway). Waking up with 1 cup of coffee, having a cup of tea 3-4 hours later, and then another cup 3-4 hours later provides little rushes of caffeine throughout the day, almost like a continuous drip. I’m not very sensitive to caffeine so this works great for me and I can still sleep at night as long as I stop by 4 or 5 pm. Tailor it to your needs.

3. Get At Least 15-20 Minutes of Exercise During the Day

Some people get their best results exercising first thing in the morning and some people need more time to wake up. What’s always worked best for me is working out anywhere from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in regards to increasing my energy throughout the day. I do 15-20 minutes on my “rest days” of either stretching/barrel rolling or light-moderate cardio. That’s all it takes to stimulate some blood flow, increase your mobility and feel more alert for the next few hours. Try it out, you may even find that it works better than a cup of coffee for you.

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Are Protein Baked Goods the Future of Snacking?

Shout out to my friends over at myProtein for sending me a package of their Protein Cookies. All over instagram you’ll see different companies with high protein snacks, baked goods, bars, shakes, etc. It leaves me wondering, “are high protein snacks the future of snacking?”. First it was low fat, now it’s low carb. But what if we finally balance our snacks by making them low fat, low carb and high protein? Here’s my review of MyProtein’s Double Chocolate Chip Protein Cookie:

Nutrition Info Per Serving (1 Cookie)

Calories: 320
Protein: 37.5 g
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Fat: 10 g

Awesome Chocolate Fix with No Guilt

I love that this is an extremely filling chocolate chip cookie, loaded with chocolate flavor and it’s a big cookie. It only has 20 grams of carbs and truth be told you only need to eat half of the cookie to feel satisfied. Half of this cookie is providing you with nearly 20 grams of protein, only 10 grams of carbs and 10 grams of fat. Smear 1 tbsp. of peanut butter on it and you have 20 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbs, and 16 grams of fat for an even more satisfying and guilt free snack.

Almost Too Much Whey

My only problem with this snack is the same problem you’ll find with most high protein snacks with this level of protein, it almost has too much protein for its own good. You’re left with a chalky sensation when you’re chewing because of the high concentration of whey protein. The high concentration of whey also makes the cookie very chewy but again, you’re not eating Grandma’s fresh baked cookies, high in fat and sugar. You’re eating a cookie with a purpose. This is something I’m used to and can easily get over. If you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, or an athlete training at a high intensity this snack is perfect. If you’re an average gym goer you could probably split these in half or opt for a lower protein treat on their website.

Overall I love this snack as a quick and easy breakfast with a cup of coffee or as a satisfying treat in between meals. Throw them in a 6 Pack Bag as an emergency snack in case you get stuck in traffic. If you like Quest bars, Pure Protein bars or basically any other kind of Whey Protein Meal Replacement treat, you’ll like these cookies. Plus, they’re cookies. You get to eat cookies with no consequences.

I’ll be reviewing MyProtein’s Preworkout and Stevia Sweetened Strawberry Whey Protein so stay tuned!

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