Enjoy this fresh, summery sugar-free dessert chock full of BCAAs!
The only thing better than dessert is dessert that you can eat without worrying about putting on slabs of body fat. This BCAA watermelon jello recipe does just that. It actually goes one step further by providing 7 grams of branched chain amino acids to help curb hunger, burn fat, and build/maintain lean muscle. Here’s what you need:
1. A large watermelon rind.
2. 8 scoops of watermelon Xtend.
3. 1/2 cup unflavored gelatin mix.
4. 8 cups of boiling water.
1. Cut a large watermelon in half and scoop out the pink flesh leaving only the green-yellow bowl-shaped rind.
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour the mixture into the watermelon rind.
4. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
5. Slice and serve.
Protein: 7 grams of BCAAs
Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 0 grams
Full Disclosure: I did not create this jello recipe, I got it off of Scivation’s website. It looks awesome though and I’m definitely going to try it. I thought it was worth sharing with anyone looking to do fun new things with their BCAAs besides just drinking them.
If you’re looking to get into shape or maximize your fitness potential then you need these fitness products
The fitness market is saturated with apparel, supplements, and accessories making it perfect to get amazing deals on products that, just a few years ago, were nearly double the price. Fitness products like pre-workouts, shaker bottles, apparel and wrist wraps have been exploding in volume lately so make sure you snag some while they’re cheap. To make my point, pre-workouts about 5 years ago barely ran under $25. Today, you can buy great pre-workouts for about $15-20.Look into these must-have fitness products to capitalize on your gym membership:
1. Shaker Bottle
Specialty shaker bottles like Umoro, Cyclone Cup and Mixr are exploding onto the scene with innovative new ways to make hydration more exciting. You can’t go wrong with a classic shaker bottle though. For $2-5 you can stay on top of your hydration and save a ton of money if you’re regularly purchasing beverages at work. Definitely start here.
2. Weight Lifting Belts
Depending on your routine you can get anything from a soft neoprene velcro-strap belt to a tough leather belt with a steel locking gear. Unless you’re lifting some serious weights (or planning to) I would start off with a neoprene weight lifting belt which will run you about $20.
3. Straps & Wraps
Invest $10-$20 in wrist straps for heavy, pull-motion lifting and/or wrist wraps to reinforce your wrists during push movements.
4. Supplements (Only the basics)
Don’t waste your money on supplements that you’re struggling to pronounce, look sketchy and are super expensive. Start off with the highly researched basics backed by science. Unless you’re looking to get into competitive bodybuilding you really don’t need to take pro-hormones, growth hormones or a medicine cabinet filled with supplements. Stick with a pre-workout, BCAAs, Whey protein or protein blend, and maybe fish oil or joint support supplement (if you need it).
You could be stalling your gains if you’re making these Muscle Building Mistakes.
If you’re hitting the gym 4-5 days per week and giving it your all only to maintain your current shape, you’re probably beginning to get frustrated. Go through this list and think about whether you could be making any of these muscle building mistakes:
1. You’re not recovering properly.
Proper recovery is made up of a few components: rest, nutrition, and myofascial release/stretching. Your body needs adequate rest (sleep) to go into “restoration mode” and begin the recovery process. Make sure you’re supplying your body with the nutrition it needs to successfully build muscle. Without the right resources you can’t expect to grow. Finally, using a trigger point roller, barrel roller, massage therapist, and even just stretching can help alleviate sore muscles, improve blood flow and increase recovery rate.
3. You’re relying too heavily on supplements to recover.
Your supplements are only there to help supply additional nutrition to your diet. Too many people rely on them. Having a post-workout whey protein shake is a good start but you might not be supplying your body with everything that it needs to recover. Try an 80% whole foods approach made up of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, and plant-based fats. Make sure you’re exceeding, or at the very least meeting your necessary caloric intake.
Get your playlist together BEFORE your workout. Don’t spend time texting, looking for music, talking, or liking stuff on Facebook in between your sets. You should only be taking 45-60 seconds in between sets to recover (unless you’re powerlifting). Use that time for dynamic stretching, breathing, flexing (building mind-muscle connection).
5. You’re not working out optimally.
This could mean you aren’t hitting full ROM when you should be, you’re cardio isn’t intense enough, you’re not focusing enough on eccentric contractions or stressing the muscle enough within each rep. This mistake is very easy to make so be conscious of it.
Your plastic scooper scrapes against the bottom of the container reminding you that you need to place an order for more whey protein, pre workout, BCAAs, fish oil or whatever your weapon of choice is. You’ve been stretching out your supplements to last as long as possible so you don’t have to empty your wallet on the stuff again. Here are some tips on how to soften the blow and spend as little as $25-30/month on your favorite supplements.
1. Understand the ingredient list.
If you’re looking for a whey protein supplement, all you need to do is look for a reputable brand (preferably one you’ve tried before) with a great flavor whey protein. A $20 tub of whey protein will produce the same effect as a $50 tub of whey protein if the primary ingredients are the same. I generally buy whatever is on sale at bodybuilding.com or amazon and I try to keep it around $40 for 50+ servings. I base my main decision off of point #2.
If I can get a 70 serving tub of whey protein for $50 vs. a 50 serving tub for $40, I’ll choose the former because that’s the better value. The same thing goes for pre-workout (which generally comes in 30 serving containers). I generally don’t spend more than $20 on a pre-workout because that market is also pretty saturated and competitive.
3. How long will the product last if you take it consistently?
If you have a 30 serving container of product that you use every day then you can expect it to last you 30 days (obviously). Are you going to take pre-workout every day? Probably not. You’ll probably only take it 4-5 days per week so it should last you roughly 6 weeks. Keep that in mind when you’re budgeting. If you only want to spend $30/month on supplements then look into the servings/price and how long the container will last you so you know exactly how much you’re spending on your supplements each month.
4. Do you need the supplement or is it hype?
The guy at GNC that sold you the 90 servings container of rare African mango skin extract that will “TARGET AND TORCH BODY FAT!” is just pumping up his commission. I’ve been ripped off and millions of other people have been ripped off like this. Look into only seriously researched supplements like whey protein, BCAAs, caffeine, and of course only consider reputable brands.
Scivation Vanilla Whey Protein (30 g of protein/serving)
Neon Sport Volt
I do the majority of my supplement shopping on Bodybuilding.com and Amazon, hunting for the best deal. With Bodybuilding.com you generally get impressively fast shipping and some free goodies but at $8+ for shipping it’s really your best bet only if you plan on buying in bulk. With Amazon you can typically pay a little less and get free shipping but you don’t get samples, magazines or become a part of the Bodybuilding.com community.
Looking for a new pre-workout? Try one of my Top 5 Pre-Workout Choices.
My pre-workout choices are based on quality ingredients, reputable brands, great prices and amazing results. I’ve tried many pre-workouts in the past and these are the ones I would recommend to new clients, fitness enthusiasts and even just the weekend warriors. Below you’ll get my top 5 pre-workouts, some that I like that didn’t make the cut and others to definitely look out for!
1. Neon Sport Volt
Now a MusclePharm subsidiary, I tried Neon Sport Volt several years ago as a sample in my bodybuilding.com order and it quickly became one of my favorite pre-workouts. It has a modest amount of caffeine, beta-alanine, amino acids, agmatine sulfate and l-citrulline. It’s roughly $20 for 36 servings but I’ve been able to get it on Amazon for as little as $15. I stack Neon Sport Volt with Xtend Perform for a ridiculous pump, long lasting energy, and decreased fatigue time. So far this is my favorite pre-workout stack, definitely give it a try.
2. Cellucor C4
Coming in second is Cellucor’s C4 Pre-Workout. While it’s not nearly as stimulating as Neon Sport Volt (due to it’s lower concentration proprietary blend), it’s a great Pre-Workout for beginners, weekend warriors or just anyone looking for an extra boost. C4 comes in a wide variety of flavors including Mojito, Strawberry Margarita, and then your staple flavors (watermelon, blue raspberry, etc.).
3. MusclePharm Assault
Barely behind C4 is MusclePharm Assault. Assault is another low intensity Pre-Workout that provides just enough stimulation to power through an intense workout but because of its three proprietary blends it’s hard to know exactly how much of each ingredient you’re getting. I’ve also found it easier to get great deals on C4 than Assault and at the end of the day I look for the best deals on quality products.
4. BSN N.O Xplode
BSN N.O Xplode is another great option for beginners and regulars alike. My first time taking N.O Xplode was INTENSE but I’ve noticed that after a week or so I get little to no stimulation out of a single serving (unlike Volt where I feel a jolt of energy every time I take it) and I have to double up on scoops which means my pre-workout only lasts half as long. N.O Xplode has sodium bicarbonate in it which makes it a fizzy cocktail that delivers the nutrients to your bloodstream faster. I personally love the “fizz” effect and wish more companies followed suit. A typical 30 serving container goes for roughly $30, more or less and again, at the end of the day if I can get 30 servings of a quality pre-workout for $15-20 I’ll ALWAYS choose the latter. Every single time.
I jumped on the Pro Supps bandwagon very briefly a year ago when Mr. Hyde was dominating the pre-workout market. The amount of caffeine in Mr. Hyde is absurd though and I would never recommend it to anyone without knowing that they could handle 300 mg of caffeine in a single serving. I generally recommend closer to 100-150 mg of caffeine for a pre-workout which is roughly the amount in the pre-workouts above. Dr. Jekyll, on the other hand, is a much less intense Pro Supps pre-workout that has 100mg of caffeine, 2 g of beta alanine, and an amino acid blend. It’s much better suited to beginner/novice level trainees. If none of the products above meet your needs then Dr. Jekyll is definitely a pre-workout that should be on your bucket-list. What You Should Eat 2 Hours Before Your Workout
Ones to Look Out For…
1) JYM Pre-Jym
I’ve heard raving reviews of Pre-JYM but have never tried it. At $35/30 servings it doesn’t fit in my monthly supplement budget, especially when I don’t think pre-workout mixes are a necessity. Definitely worth a try though!
2) MyProtein MyPRE
MyProtein sent me their pre-workout MyPRE and I LOVED it. The flavor was a 7/10, the mixibility was closer to a 6/10 but the results were fantastic. Great pump, razor sharp focus, and long lasting energy.
3) Scivation Xtend Go
With 7g of BCAAs and 100 mg of caffeine, Xtend Go is a great option for those of you just looking for a pick me up without worrying about any ingredients that make you feel uncomfortable. It’s very subtle, natural energy and a cost effective approach to pre-workout.
4) Amino Energy
Just after Xtend Go is Optimum Nutrition’s Amino Energy. With 5g of amino acids and 100 mg of caffeine it’s another great option if you’re looking for a subtle, natural energy boost that you can drink any time.
The Natural Approach Black Coffee (10-12 oz.), preferably iced to reduce the risk of mid-workout heartburn.
Black Tea (12 oz.) with lemon or honey on ice.
Complex Carbohydrates (1-2 servings) including fruit, oatmeal, whole grains, etc.
Do you have a pre-workout that you like more than the ones that I listed? Let me know about it! Comment here, tweet me, or talk me to me on Instagram!
The Scivation team sent me their brand new line of Xtend BCAAs, Xtend Perform. What separates this from their other line of BCAAs, and other brands’ BCAAs for that matter, is their new patented ingredient “Peak 02”. Participating in their 21 day challenge, I’ll be taking 2 scoops of Xtend Perform during my workout and recording the results over those 3 weeks. In addition, I’ll also be trying to achieve several personal goals: gaining 10 lbs, squatting over 400 lbs, and benching over 300 lbs relatively easily.
The buzz around this product is that their new patented ingredient Peak 02 is supposed to increase time to exhaustion by increasing 02 uptake. I generally take 45 seconds of rest in between sets supplementing with regular Xtend BCAAs. After taking 2 scoops of Xtend Perform every day for the past 2-3 weeks I’ve noticed that around 30-35 seconds I’m ready for my next set again. There are other factors that could potentially play into this as well though. I’ve significantly increased my calorie intake over the last 3 weeks, nearly tripling my carbohydrate intake which definitely has played a role in my increased energy.
2) Bigger pumps when stacked with my usual pre-workout.
Unlike point #1, which could be a result of my new diet, exercise routine, and then my new supplement stack, this point is undeniable. I’ve always stacked BCAAs with my pre-workout and never really noticed a significantly different pump. I’ve been taking 1/2 scoop of preworkout and mixing it with 1 scoop of Black Cherry Xtend Perform. The pump has been equal to or greater than the energy I typically feel with 1 scoop of preworkout alone. Less caffeine to me means less caffeine dependency come workout time.
Of course I could credit this to any BCAA product because they all require you to mix them in 16-24 oz of water and have hydration benefits. However, during my 21-day challenge, with my extra scoop of Xtend Perform, I’ve been taking in an additional 24 oz. of iced water that I can easily drink in about 2 minutes because the flavor is so good. As I’ve said in the past, many people find it easier to hydrate better when they drink cold flavored beverages rather than warm unflavored water.
I’ve tried Blue Raspberry, Lemon Lime, Mango, Fruit Punch, Grape, Pink Lemonade, Kiwi Strawberry, Fruit Punch, Watermelon, Green Apple, and now Black Cherry, and I can honestly say that Black Cherry Xtend Perform is on my top 3 favorite tasting supplements of all time. I had low expectations also because I’m not a fan of cherry flavored ANYTHING. If no other points made you consider trying Xtend Perform, if you’re skeptical of the new ingredient (Peak 02), if you think BCAA supplementation is all hype, then try Black Cherry Xtend Perform just because it’s the best tasting BCAA supplement I’ve had to date (rivaled only by Blue Raspberry Xtend).
5) Less sweet than regular Xtend BCAAs.
The only complaint I’ve heard from clients, friends, and family members that have tried my Xtend out of curiosity is that it’s too sweet. I mix Xtend with 24 oz of cold water and it’s still sweet. But again, Xtend is a product intended to increase hydration, recovery, reduce fatigue time, and so on. It’s not meant to go down in one shot like a pre-workout or capsule. Black Cherry Xtend Perform is definitely less sweet than the rest of the Xtend line though. 16 oz. of Black Cherry Xtend Perform is roughly as sweet as 24 oz. of other Xtend flavors.
No gym? No problem. If there are times when getting to the gym isn’t an option, read on. Whether you’re on vacation, stuck home in a snowstorm, or only have 20 minutes to work out before getting ready for work, you can do this home workout for a quick, fat burning fix. Pair it with a healthy diet and you’ll get the results you’re looking for right in the comfort of your own living room. Try this out:
Circuit #1 30 seconds of Jumping Jacks
30 seconds of Body Squats
30 seconds Reverse Lunges
Rest: 30 seconds
Circuit #2 30 seconds of Push Ups
30 seconds of Mountain Climbers
30 second Plank
Rest: 30 seconds
Even if you can’t get through every circuit in the 20 minutes you’ll have done a killer, whole body workout and you’ll have a goal to strive toward. This workout requires no equipment and no gym. Give it a try next time you think you don’t have enough time to make it to the gym. I guarantee you’ll have more energy and feel more accomplished afterward.
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.
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.
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.
EXOS, an adidas sponsored company and leader in sports performance & corporate wellness, broke down the idea of training into four main components: Mindset (25%), Nutrition (25%), Movement (25%) and Recovery (25%). They are equally important and neglecting one will lead to a less effective training program. The only catch is that you HAVE to give each component 110% to be successful.
Do you have a generally positive attitude in the gym? What about on the field? What about at work? What about at home? Your mindset is the first step you must conquer in order to be successful. Are you prepared for change? Do you believe that you WILL succeed? These are all important questions to ask yourself and your answer should be YES to all of them. Do you know WHY you’re starting your program (and when I say program I really mean lifestyle)?
Are you fueling your body for performance inside and outside the gym? Are your meals made up of a variety of colors? Are you confident that your meals are consistent with a healthy lifestyle, with the ability to prevent disease and improve performance? Probably the most important question I can ask you is…do you know how to prepare meals? If not you could find easy tutorials online. Anybody can meal prep, it’s super easy. I use my 6 Pack Bag to store my meals, gym clothes, and supplements for the work day. It only takes me 15 minutes tops per night to prepare for the next day. This way I’m always on track and all of my meals are portioned correctly.
Does your routine meet the needs of your goals? Are you addressing your weaknesses and tackling them head-on? Do you change your exercises, in some way, every few weeks? Do you have a warm-up routine, a cardio routine, a strength routine, a recovery routine, etc.? It’s important to focus on addressing every aspect of training, not just hypertrophy and aesthetics. To piggyback off that last note, make sure you’re training for the sport you’re in. If you don’t have a sport then train for life. If you’re a powerlifter then obviously the majority of your training should focus on core strength and power. If you’re a bodybuilder then you train for hypertrophy, symmetry, aesthetics, etc. If you’re like me and you just want to be in above average, incredible shape with a lot of definition, power, size, but not in a competitive way, then your routine should include strength, endurance, calisthenics, and recovery.
Are you always feeling tired and overworked? Do you sleep at least 6 hours per night? It’s time to focus on recovery. Not just of your body, but of your mind. Recovery means soothing muscle pain, decompressing mental stress, recollecting your emotions and feeling at peace.
If you answered “no” to any of the questions I asked in my points, then take some time to address that component. Maybe you need to focus more on recovery, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect movement to achieve better recovery. Balance is the key to success. Use these 4 components to improve your performance in all aspects of life.
You woke up stuffy, sneezy, and coughing. After dragging your feet to the refrigerator and searching for some citrus salvation, you pour yourself a glass of OJ with high hopes of defeating your cold. You may even have plans of making chicken noodle soup and abusing a pack of NyQuil. Your plan may work but it could take over 7 days to defeat your cold. I’ll give you several tips on how to defeat your cold even faster!
1. Get your Vitamin C from better sources.
Vitamin C is more of a preventative weapon when it comes to the common cold (as in consuming it while you’re already sick may not be a huge help), but you should still supply your body with this immune system boosting nutrient. Oranges aren’t your best source, believe it or not.This doesn’t mean you can’t drink orange juice and emergen-C, but there are whole sources out there that are even higher in Vitamin C than oranges. 1 serving of mini bell peppers packs in 270% of your DV of Vitamin C.
Tea, coffee, soup, it’s all good! The purpose of the hot fluids is to help thin the mucus which your body is producing to trap the bug that’s in your system. Drinking hot fluids will alleviate the hacking, stuffiness, and discomfort associated with mucus build up. You can also look into medicine like Mucinex, Nyquil, Cold Ez, etc., but I tend to take a whole-foods approach to conquering illness.
3. Hold off on intense exercise.
This is highly debated concept and a lot of weight lifters will scoff at people who stop lifting for a few days when they have a cold, but I let science dictate my approach. If your body has to focus its energy and nutrients to regenerating muscle tissue, then it can’t focus on killing the virus in your system. Give yourself 1-2+ days off when you feel a cold blossoming and give your body nutrients and rest.
Staying hydrated is critically important when fighting a cold. The hot fluids will help thin the extra mucus your body is producing for a while but drinking water consistently will help keep that mucus thin and will help mobilize it.
This is mostly effective for sore throats, especially if you have post-nasal drip. If it feels like I’m swallowing glass all day (and night) I’ll be absolutely miserable.Considering this is my least favorite cold symptom, I thought it was important to include a tip on how to defeat this symptom. Fill a glass up with 4-6 oz of warm water, mix in 1-2 tsp. of salt, and gargle the mixture over and over until it’s all gone. The salt draws out the “gunk” that’s dried up on your throat causing inflammation and pain. Afterward, you can gargle some mouthwash to kill any bacteria. It will also provide a cooling effect on the throat but the salt water gargle is really what helps the most so don’t skip that!