Shake up your workout with a protein shake

You put so much effort into getting fit that you’re probably willing to try just about anything in the hope of staying fit and making all that work pay off. Look around the gym or fitness studio and you’ll probably find a sea of bottles, filled with various shakes, smoothies, and supplements. Everyone from the muscle-head training for a figure competition to the grandmother who wants to get in shape to play with her grandchildren seems to have a magic formula to sip on between reps or on the walk back out to the real world.

In fact, you might think that, if you don’t follow the trend, you’re somehow missing out on the key to health and wellness, that the shake itself is what would seal your success.

Here are a few quick facts, and then we’ll dive in a bit deeper:

  • Nutrition is crucial to your overall fitness. You may have heard the phrase “abs begin in the kitchen,” and to a certain point, that’s true. But defining your goal is the most important part of the equation. If you’re looking to lose weight, you may have a different set of nutritional guidelines to follow than someone who wants to build muscle mass, perform better in a specific sport, get better endurance for longer workouts, etc. There is no one-shake-fits-all recipe.
  • Calories count. This may seem like an overly simple statement, but the truth is that every addition to your shake or smoothie means that the overall calorie load and nutritional density change. Dumping in various powders, fruits, nut butters, and more may make the shake more delicious and filling, but you need to weigh that against what it will require you to do in terms of activity.
  • The more processed the ingredient is, the more cautious you should be. Regulation of supplements and shakes can be a little looser than for medically prescribed items, and companies have a vested interest in making delicious and appealing products, so you may not want or need some additives. Sugars or artificial sweeteners are prevalent in many brands, as are artificial flavors, refined soy, and other ingredients companies add to bulk up the powder. Some supplementation may be very helpful, but keep in mind that real, whole foods provide many nutritional benefits without the drawbacks!

Let’s get into more detail and specifically talk about the what, why, when, and how of protein shakes.


What’s the difference between a shake and a protein shake? Sometimes, not that much. Because protein is found in milk and milk products as well as nuts, nut butters, and several other additives, even a dessert shake has protein in it! The biggest difference (outside of marketing) is that protein shakes are designed to support and enhance fitness goals, and they are meant to be consumed at specific periods or intervals so they help muscle cells recover after tough workouts.

While not required, another hallmark of a protein shake is that it often includes a protein powder or supplement. The sources may include:

  • Milk
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Legumes (peas, nuts, or beans – technically, these may be classified as vegetables, but companies have started to use them as plant-based powders)

What’s especially nice about the options is that there are variations for all needs: milk and whey protein sources won’t be appropriate for someone with a dairy intolerance, but plant-based proteins may work well. Someone who avoids soy may prefer a pea or egg protein.

If the goal is just to increase your protein intake, eating a spoonful of almond butter or a couple of hard-boiled eggs will do the trick. A shake can include other nutrient-rich ingredients like fruits, vegetables, or grains to make a blend that is more filling, more flavorful, and a more balanced part of the day’s food.


Protein is a macronutrient, and along with fat and carbohydrate, it’s essential to the human diet. Protein is made up of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds, and its main goal in the context of fitness is to help build and repair body tissues.

types of amino acids: essential, which the body can’t make on its own, and nonessential, which the body is able to manufacture. Essential amino acids have to come from food or another source, which is why powders and other supplements are so trendy.

How much protein does a person need? It really depends on the individual and the goals. NASM recommends:

  • Sedentary adult: 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day
  • Strength athletes: 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day
  • Endurance athletes: 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day

Outside of a fitness regimen, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. (You can use this interactive calculator to look at your own needs, and remember that 1 pound equals 0.453592 kilograms, so you will have to do some conversions!)


Timing matters, and for some, it’s crucial. A person managing a disease like diabetes, for example, may have blood sugar concerns that are affected by a workout. A pregnant woman may want to pay closer attention to what she eats before, during, and after her workout because of its effect on the growing baby.

And for all of us, ensuring that we’re giving our muscles and body the fuel and hydration they need not only to perform but to perform safely is at the heart of the matter.

Typically, athletes consume a protein shake after a workout, especially if the goal is to help repair muscle and let the body absorb and process the shake quickly.

But recent studies show that drinking a shake or eating protein an hour or two before a workout may be as or even more effective! Remember those amino acids we talked about above? They can, according to many experts, prevent injury and increase your ability to build muscle during a workout. Getting the nutrients into your system before you work up a sweat and then replenishing with a small snack or shake afterwards may be the perfect 1-2 combo.

Be careful consuming anything closer to a workout, though – it can be hard on your stomach, and if you’re uncomfortable, you won’t be able to do your routine effectively!


I asked some of my registered dietitian and nutritionist friends for some smoothie and shake recipes, and they came up with some delicious ideas. Notice their focus on real, whole foods and natural protein sources – and when they do recommend supplementing with a powder, they explain which one and why:

Choose My Plate has a great list of foods with their protein amounts, so depending on your own needs, you can add some items to help boost a macronutrient.

And remember: be cautious of calorie overload. A protein shake can quickly go from a few hundred calories to a few thousand and be more like a dessert than a recovery snack. Your shake should help you reach your goals, not derail them.

So, what’s the take-away message?

Pay attention to what you eat and when, and if a shake or smoothie sounds delicious and refreshing and you can use it as a vehicle for supporting your workout – go for it! I love having a green smoothie, especially after a really sweaty workout. I use spinach or kale, a frozen banana, a few dates, mixed berries, almond milk, a little nut butter, a scoop of protein powder, and a dash of cinnamon and enjoy every last sip of the sweet, healthy treat.

But if that doesn’t appeal to you, either find another source of protein that you do love (a spoonful of peanut butter!) or just eat a well-balanced diet. There’s no magic in a shake, and if you skip it, you aren’t undoing your workout or missing the key to weight loss and fitness.


Warm Lemon Water: Healthy or Hype?


Warm lemon water is the health trend of the moment. It’s been touted for its magical benefits, each one seemingly more incredible than the last. When high-profile celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Campbell start drinking it, you can be sure the popular wave of interest is not far behind. But is drinking warm lemon water really all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s sort out the hype from the real health benefits.

Warm Lemon Water Truths

  • Can lemon water keep you hydrated? Yes. It is water, after all.
  • Can lemon water boost your Vitamin C levels? A little. It depends on how much lemon you add to the water. Lemon also contains calcium, iron, and potassium.
  • Can lemon water be a good replacement for juice or coffee? Absolutely. There is no sugar in lemon water so substituting it for juice or sugary coffees is a healthy option.

Why You Should Really Try Drinking Warm Lemon Water

The real magic of warm lemon water may be psychological. Adding lemon to water can be more interesting and flavorful than just drinking plain water. If the lemony flavour helps you to drink more water, that’s good. If you’re used to a hot coffee or tea in the morning, drinking your lemon water warm can offer that same bit of comfort, especially on a cold day.

Furthermore, simply feeling like you are making a healthier choice (if it’s replacing sugary coffee or juice you actually are) can have positive benefits for brain and body. Science has shown that the placebo effect can be a powerful phenomenon with real physical and emotional effects.

When to Drink Warm Lemon Water

  1. First thing in the morning: rehydrating upon waking up is a good idea, as you’ve just spent around eight hours not consuming any liquids. You can lose water through skin perspiration but did you know you can even lose it through your breathing?
  2. When you feel hungry: if you’re feeling hungry, it could actually be that you’re actually dehydrated. Try drinking a tall glass of lemon water before deciding whether or not you need food. If you have a goal of eating less at meals, drinking water right before a meal can be a good way to help you feel fuller so you won’t be as tempted by those second helpings.
  3. Post-workout: immediately after exercise is a crucial time to rehydrate. Try bringing a bottle of infused waterwith you to the gym. Try to drink small sips throughout your workout (to avoid getting cramps midway), and then fully hydrate immediately after.

In spite of all the old folklore and current hype surrounding warm lemon water, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a good habit to incorporate into your daily routine. Personally, I’m always trying to stay hydrated, and the fact that adding lemon makes water much more enjoyable to consume is benefit enough. It’s a healthier option than juice or sugary coffee, and much more affordable too. So why not buy a bag of lemons, invest in a water filter, and give it a try?


The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar


Apple cider vinegar: skin tonic, digestive aid and cancer fighter? Research is now revealing that apple cider vinegar has dozens of uses, not only around the home but also in our bodies!

The cleaning functions of ACV are impressive. But the most powerful benefits of ACV have to do with improving and maintaining our health. Apple cider vinegar has a wealth of enzymes and helpful bacteria that can be put to multiple uses inside our bodies. But you need to be aware of a very important ACV fact. There are two types of apple cider vinegar you can buy. You might be tempted by the one that looks clear and pristine. This lovely looking refined ACV is great for cleaning, but not for health applications. The apple cider vinegar that is most beneficial to our insides is the raw, unfiltered version. This opaque version undergoes a double fermentation process that results in the production of boatloads of enzymes. So why is this fermented, unfiltered one better than the clearer filtered versions?

It is all about the mother. The “mother” is the beneficial complex structure of acids that makes the vinegar appear cloudy. Once removed, the vinegar is still a tremendous cleaning agent, but it unfortunately loses many of the highly coveted health benefits during the processing to make it clear.

What is in apple cider vinegar in addition to all those enzymes? Inside that murky maple-colored liquid are iron, potassium, magnesium, malic acid, acetic acid, calcium, pectin, and ash. All of these minerals and nutrients combine to make a deeply potent healing agent. But there are mixed reviews on the content of all these nutrients in ACV. More recent studies suggest that powerful phytonutrients – powerful plant qualities that scientists are only beginning to comprehend – may be responsible for the powerful effects of ACV. Whatever the secret ingredient, raw, unfiltered, mother-filled ACV is worth its weight in gold.

What are all the health benefits of apple cider vinegar? There are dozens and dozens in the literature, but some are more convincing as they are backed by peer-reviewed scientific research.

One of the most convincing studies involving apple cider vinegar has to do with blood sugar regulation. The research revealed that taking 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV before bed with a small amount of fat resulted in lower morning fasting blood sugar measurements. These studies also showed that those who participated also experienced a weight loss of several pounds over the four-week study. That was a nice bonus!

Another surprising health benefit of ACV is its ability to boost immune function. Researchers have found that the antioxidants found in ACV can reduce damage done by free radicals. Apple cider vinegar is also a strong antimicrobial agent and has been shown to work in some situations where medication would not.

I can’t step away from the health benefits of this wonder elixir until I talk a little about the gut-healing powers of ACV. Remember I mentioned above that ACV seemed to have some power over weight loss? Theorists believe that ACV, perhaps the acetic acid content, allows food to be more effectively broken down and absorbed in the intestinal tract. This proved key for the blood sugar study participants’ unexpected weight loss, but also means that ACV can reduce stress on the digestive tract.

Anything that helps you break down and absorb that piece of broccoli means less stagnation and fermentation in the tract. If apple cider vinegar aids in this process the result is a more highly functioning food processing machine. Also, because of the plethora of enzymes, ACV starts acting on your digestion the minute it hits your lips. Finally, ACV is considered a prebiotic. Prebiotics are “food” for your probiotics. This is very important in keeping your probiotic number high and robust. All of these attributes translate into easier digestion and elimination.


Are You Nuts For Nuts?

Dietitians and nutritionists generally recommend nuts as a healthy snack, because they are packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein. These small powerhouses can get you through the few hours before dinner when your tummy is rumbling. Like with everything else, moderation is key, because although they are healthy, they are high in fat and calories; and if you eat too many of them, you’ll ruin your appetite. It’s important to note that nuts are healthy in their raw form, add any sugar or salt to them and they lose their nutritious value. So, which nuts should you have and which nuts should you avoid? Let’s break it down.

Almonds, cashews and pistachios are a great choice when looking for healthy nuts, as they have the lowest calories. Almonds especially, are a favorite among nut eaters as they have more calcium than any other nut. In addition, they are rich in antioxidants such as phenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids, fiber and vitamin E. Cashews are a good source of minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc and have a lot of protein as well, making them an excellent choice for snacking. Pistachios are also great, because they are high in vitamin E, lutein and beta-carotene; but keep in mind to look for organic pistachios because most of them are bleached or treated chemically and you could potentially ingest harmful residues. Pistachios have numerous health benefits where they have lowered cholesterol, reduced blood pressure and have helped people lose weight.

Keep in mind that most nuts should be eaten in moderation due to their high protein content. Excess protein in your diet can lead to numerous health problems, such as high blood sugar, weight gain, kidney problems and leaching of bone minerals. It is easy to do this if you eat a few handful of high protein nuts, so just be careful not to overdo it.

On the flip side, although these aren’t “bad” nuts, macadamia nuts and pecans have the most calories, the highest fat, lowest protein and carb content of any other nut. Even so, raw macadamia nuts do have healthy nutrients, as they have high amounts of vitamin B1, magnesium and manganese. Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals including magnesium, heart healthy oleic acid, manganese and phenolic antioxidants. In addition, if you’re ever feeling tired and lethargic, pecans are the perfect option, as they are a good source of vitamin B3 which helps us access the energy in our food.

The popular belief surrounding nuts is that nuts are fattening. Well, they are, but most of it is heart-healthy fats which can actually help you maintain your ideal weight over time. They are a great source of minerals and vitamins and should definitely be among your go-to snacks. Try to eat those nuts that are low in saturated fat content and sometimes indulge in those that are high in fat content to maintain a balanced diet. And again, do not eat too many of them, as they are most beneficial in small quantities.

Happy Snacking!

Five Tips For Healthy Eating During The Festive Season


Celebrating the holiday season with your loved ones can absolutely bring joy & happiness. However, for so many people it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. By following these few simple tips, you’ll be able to stay healthy through the holiday season:

  1. Be realistic. Try to maintain your weight instead of trying to lose weight.
  2. Choose a smaller plate to help with portion control. You’ll be less likely to over eat but can still enjoy the food available. Also, begin your meal with a salad or some fruits before moving on to the main dish as this will help you eat less.
  3. Holidays can be a stressful time for some people, don’t forget to stay active and  exercise regularly. The endorphins released while working out will make you feel good but exercising will also help to prevent weight gain.
  4. Before attending a party have a light snack so that you don’t over indulge when it’s time to eat. It is also important to not skip meals throughout the day, having breakfast or lunch that is packed with nutrients will make it easier to avoid over eating.
  5. Don’t stuff yourself, eat until you are satisfied- Take smaller bites and chew thoroughly, you may find that you get full faster and may not even want to go for seconds

Who Said You Have To Be Low On Energy In Ramadan?

It is commonly known that the energy and productivity levels of those who fast fall significantly during the month of Ramadan compared to the normal days. The body functions on less food & fluids, causing laziness & fatigue to the body, especially in the summer season where weather temperatures are high.

Although, fasting is known to be very effective in cleansing the body and improving health conditions, it does affect your energy levels if your body is not well prepared for it. Therefore, you must eat more consciously during Suhoor and Iftar, to help maintain good energy levels throughout the day.

Here, we bring you some nutrition tips to follow during Suhoor and Iftar to help keep you active and energetic while fasting. So, here is what you should do:

  • Increase your Liquid Intake: Drinking more fluids will keep you hydrated throughout the day. Fresh fruit juices like strawberry juice, apricot juice and milk soda are the best options to have during Suhoor. These juices will maintain the blood sugar level of the body.
  • Include more fibrous food: Fibrous food products are the best during Ramadan, as they improve your metabolism throughout the day. If your stomach is not performing well, then you will feel lazy with a heavier body. If the body metabolism is working fine, the body then feels energetic and lighter. These fibrous food products include mangoes, tomatoes and other green vegetables.
  • Avoid junk food: You should not eat junk food or canned food during Ramadan or any other month. Most of the junk foods like burgers and French fries are high in sodium and oil, that are not healthy for the body. Junk food lacks essential nutrients, hence, the energy level of the body decreases during the fasting day.
  • Eat more dates: Dates contain carbohydrates that are very essential to keep the body energetic and active. It is recommended that people should take 3 to 5 dates at the time of Suhoor as it will maintain the sugar level of the body. Dates also contain fibers that are good for regulating bowel movements.
  • Avoid Salty & spicy food: All the salty, fried and  spicy foods are thirst triggers. Try to avoid them especially in a hot weather as they will retain water in your body and make you feel bloated.
  • Have Milk: Usually people don’t like to drink milk during Ramadan, but it is recommended as it contains calcium and strengthens your bones. You can add some ingredients in the milk to make it tasty and delicious.

Ramadan Kareem, Stay Healthy & Fitt!!!

Healthy Eating

Publications often mislead us about what is healthy and what is not. For example, Muesli bars are usually categorized as a healthy snack, but are they really that healthy?

Often they don’t mention that gluten, lactose, e-numbers, soda, vets, etc are all ingredients that you can find in these bars, which are all ingredients that can easily cause problems to your digestive system, can lead to a hormone imbalance or even stimulate your appetite which can result in some people over eating and becoming overweight.

Most of the people who are overweight have too much tummy fat. Fat that is located between all vital organs, such as the stomach, liver, intestines and kidneys.
Numerous research studies have proved, that there is a very clear connection between this belly fat and many diseases like heart diseases, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc.

People that are over-weight tend to easily and more often fall ill and have a shorter life expectancy as well. Research shows that people who are obese live at least 7 years less than people that maintain a healthy weight. Besides the physical issues, a lot of mental issues increase up to 55%, by being obese This is quite a significant number isn’t it? How this happens and what we can do about it are the things I will write about in my next blogs. I start by explaining a bit about the most used ingredients in our diets that are quite toxic for your body!
My goal is to educate people a bit more about how we are able to create a healthy, happy, vital life and enjoy it in the process. Live longer for yourself!

It is not to scare you from having a good dinner and an enjoyable life, not at all, on the contrary, with this information you are able to make little changes in your life that might be necessary in a very easy and enjoyable way!

Carin Huibers – Certified Naturopathic Therapist & Founder of Omnia Balance Foundation. Carin is a certified naturopathic therapist, and the founder of Omnia balance. She helps and supports people in their process of (re) establishing balance, inner peace and vitality in their lives. Besides being a certified naturopathic therapist, she is also gifted with abilities that support her approach towards fast individual problem solving or reaching personal targets in accordance with the person, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual state of development. She chooses different methods of healing, such as Natural therapy, Omnia Method, Medium-ship, Aura and chakra therapy, Quantum Touch, orthomolecular therapy, Jacket Technique, Mir, EMDR and others.

You cannot out train a bad diet

Many people have the wrong perception, that if they just exercise then they don’t need to worry about eating healthy!

Whether you want to gain muscles, lose fat, live healthy or even compete at the highest levels of sports, what will help you to achieve your goal is always the right NUTRITION.

Poor nutrition is what will hold you back, whereas, good nutrition is what will keep you moving forward. Good nutrition is what will feed your muscles and shed fats; it’s what will improve nearly every measurable health marker. It significantly improves body recovery and mood states, so you can exercise – whether its purposeful or just part of your daily lifestyle – harder, longer and more frequently. Good nutrition is what will get you the body you never thought you could ever have. However, it is not just eating less sugary desserts, eating more vegetables and fruits, eating less meat or less carbs,all these definitions are incomplete and flat out wrong. So what does good nutrition do?

  • It properly controls energy balance (relationship between energy intake and energy output)
  • It provides nutrient density (food that provides substantial amounts of nutrients with the necessary calories)
  • It achieves healthy body composition (relationship between lean body mass of bones water and muscles with fat mass) and performance goal (functioning on a high level).

Good nutrition is honest and outcome based: being honest with yourself and sticking to the right plan, as well as having the right physique and health profile.