Hydration 101

I was at a football game this past week and noticed a lot of athletes cramping. The game stopped every couple minutes because of it. It made me want to make some content on it to help the student athletes during the hot / humid days of summer. 

Benefits of Hydration:

– Reduces fatigue

-Reduces the chances of cramps 

-Helps you to think more clearly during games

-Increases performance 

-Lubricates joints for high impact activities 

-so much more

———

—How much water should I drink?—

I always went with the rule of half your bodyweight in ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, I like to shoot for an estimated 100 ounces on average.

If you are losing water weight, or a bunch of weight after a workout/practice on a hot day then you need to ensure you are replacing that lost fluid to keep from being dehydrated. You should get about 16-24 ounces per pound that is lost from exercise.

——

Here is some of my favorite tips on keeping hydrated:

Carry water with you everywhere. 

It’s simple and typically when we get bored, we will sip on the water.

Drink a glass of water after every meal. If you want to lose weight, try drinking the water before to help fill the belly so you consume less calories. If you want to gain weight, eat first and only sip then finish the water after your meal.

Eat foods higher in water.

Eat watermelon/ strawberries/cantaloupe. These are a high percentage of water so it will aid in hydration.

Mark your bottles with times and try to be at the mark by that time.
This can be a huge help to keep you on pace through the day to ensure you are meeting your hydration goals.

Take frequent water breaks during workouts and training sessions. 

I always would give my team a lot of water breaks during practice and I give all of my clients time to sip on water through the workout.

Supplement to help.

Pedialyte and liquid IV are my go to hydration supplement on extremely hot days or if I know I am going to struggle with water intake. If I don’t have those, I like getting something with carbs, sodium, magnesium, and potassium if possible. This will help increase your electrolyte levels.

————–

At the end of the day, make sure you are getting enough water and good things will come from it. Increase in performance, your body and mind will feel better and operate at a higher level. Joints and muscle aches will decrease. It’s a crucial part of everyday life.

Have an awesome day!

-Alex Costa

Healthy Trail Mix Recipe

.

This is super easy and fast to put together! Here’s all you need! You can use as much as desired for any of these but I try to even it out!

.

💪Almonds 

💪Walnuts

💪String Cheese

💪Cranberries 

.

I like to use one of the containers that my almonds came in to put all my ingredients in then just shake up and take on the go!

I put the almonds and walnuts in then just used kitchen scissors to cut the string cheese into smaller pieces then threw my cranberries in! BOOM 💥 You’re done already! This can fuel you up through the day and is great to take on the go if you’re in a hurry. 

.

🏈Great snack for my football guys in two-a-days. It’s packed with protein, healthy fats for healthier hearts, joints and brain. Then also has calcium with the string cheese for stronger bones. The cranberries are great for blood flow which help with a lot of things but PLEASE watch if you are on any medications like BLOOD THINNERS, STATINS, ETC. please check with the doctor before if you are unsure. Also check for food allergies before eating.

.

If you can eat this then I’m sure you will love it! Sweet and salty will really help satisfy your cravings if you want this as a weight loss snack, just use smaller portions. If you want to add some weight, add more ingredients especially the nuts due to the higher caloric count in almonds and walnuts. 

.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

-Alex Costa-

4 Tips to Starting and Keeping Your Weight Loss Resolution

So here we are. We made it out of 2020, and you’ve made a new year resolution to get healthy and shed that extra weight. You’re extremely motivated and excited. You go sign up for a gym membership that you’ve now committed yourself to for the next year. You rush to your local sporting goods store and invest in half of a wardrobe worth of workout gear, and of course, don’t forget the new shoes. You’re getting ready to demolish your pantry, clear out your fridge, and head to the grocery store to get your new spread of healthy food options. This is where I want to stop you, and hopefully, you haven’t gotten to this point yet. Honestly, I would prefer it if I’ve got you before you even pick up that gym membership. 

Now, before I go into this any further I would like to tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Clark, and I have lost nearly 100lbs in the last three years, and I’m continuing to lose more. This will be the first article I have ever written, but about this 100th time I’ve given this advice. I must preface by saying I am not a medical professional, certified trainer, or registered dietician. I am not here to give you professional advice. I am just an everyday average guy, who let myself get insanely out of shape, who’s somehow managed to lose a lot of weight, keep it off and continue to lose, and learn a lot over the past 3 years. 

I am not here to offer a workout plan, debunk any “fad diets”, or sell you the magic supplement that’s going to do all of the work for you. (Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist… yet) I am going to give you my own personal do’s and don’ts of beginning a weight loss journey and more importantly, a healthier life in general. So here we go, here are my top 4 tips on starting, and more importantly, sticking to, a weight loss journey.

Tip 1: See it for what it is 

As corny as it may sound: Accept that this is a lifestyle change and not a diet that you’re going to start and one day end. If you are simply looking to lose that pesky 10lbs for your friend’s wedding, or drop a pant size, then of course a short term diet could be your ticket, but we are talking about serious weight loss here. You are going to want to have a serious mental intervention with yourself, and understand that your primary goal is not to lose weight, it’s to become healthier and feel better about yourself, and in order to do that, you must change the way you live, it’s all or nothing here.
 

Tip 2: Make it unique to you 

Find what works for you, and don’t be afraid to experiment: I am not here to push the way I diet on you, or tell you that any one is better than the other. Quite frankly I have tried multiple different diet’s and eating patterns over the last few years, and no one in particular worked best for me. I tend to bounce around a few different one’s depending on how they fit into my constantly changing day to day work schedule. So what do I recommend? Do some research! Read about different plans online, request an appointment with a dietitian, or even look into meal prep services that check into your goals, and ship the meals strait to you. The same goes for workout plans. Check around at your local gym’s, most gym’s offer one day passes, don’t be afraid to try out a few. At this point for me, I’ve worked out at nearly every gym in my hometown. You can also look into home gym/workout options, or even consult with a personal trainer near you. All of the things I have listed above require time, money, and sacrifice. So before doing any of these things, I recommend you read step 3 first.

Tip 3: Don’t be in a hurry

Run the Marathon, not the sprint: This is not a race, it never will be. In my years of doing this I’ve realized very quickly that overwhelming yourself with high expectations and harsh deadlines can put a dagger in your progress quicker than anything else. If you take away anything from this article I want it to be this: START SLOW. Doing anything cold turkey is one of the most difficult pressure’s you could put on yourself. Although it does happen in diet, quitting nicotine, alcohol, or other vices, typically those who succeed were presented with a fairly significant health scare in some way or another that put them in that position. Given that you’re reading this article right now I’m going to say it’s safe to assume you haven’t had devastating news from a doctor that has you ready to change everything right now, and that’s okay! For the rest of us a slow process of elimination will work just as good. Your goal is to make this as easy on yourself as you possibly can, because we are shooting for the long term here. This is a process that will hopefully last for the remainder of your life, there is no sense in rushing it. I did not lose all of my weight by only eating lean meats and veggies while weighing out all of my meals. It took me 3 years to get to that point. I lost my first 20lbs by deciding to walk every day and cook more of my food instead of living in the drive thru. For some, obtaining noticeable weight loss may not take that long, for some it may take longer, at the end of the day this is YOUR work, and nobody else’s. My most reliable piece of weight loss advice is to start by taking a 15 minute walk every day, that may not provide the instant gratification that 90 minute workouts coupled with a restrictive diet will, but you have to remember that you are setting yourself up for the long term. Creating a habit first, is much more important than 6 weeks of great results that ultimately end in a crash and burn scenario. There are no secrets here. We all know that eating less and exorcising more will help us lose weight, but if it was that easy we would all do it right now, wouldn’t we? Trust me on this, take your time. Start with a walk, and then when you’re walking every, day maybe go ahead and cut out something from your every day diet. For nearly every person I have met so far, that one thing they first cut out was soda. For me, having never been a big soda drinker, it was Arizona Tea and Sour Patch Kids. Regardless, of what it is, just pick one to start. Don’t feel the need to do everything at once. As time goes on, find more exorcises, build that routine, cut some more things out every week or two, no matter what you do, pace yourself. 

Tip 4: Consistency

Consistency; Through all of the articles, all of the videos, all of the books I have explored through all of the varying opinions and advice all across the fitness industry, the one constant is consistency. Now when I say consistency I’m not referring to sticking to a consistent routine and never shying away from it. That is a completely unreasonable ask. What I mean is that when you fall short of your plan. When you slip up on your diet, when you miss a workout, you forget to walk, or your friend’s decided on a place to eat and you didn’t want to be the only one sitting there without a plate, or failed to meet a short term weight goal: don’t get discouraged! I have yet to meet a single person out of the hundreds of people I’ve talked to throughout the industry who haven’t fallen short of their goals at least a few times. The difference between those who are, and aren’t successful is simple: those who succeed are those who get back to the process after failure. As a compulsive binge/emotional eater I still to this day will slip up and eat my way through an entire large pizza and an order of taco’s within an hour and then spend the rest of the night asking myself “what have I done?” but the most important part of making those occurrences fewer and fewer is getting right back to work the next day. I wake up, avoid the scale, head strait to the gym and give myself a workout to be proud of. Staying consistent is the key factor in making this a long term, enjoyable journey that has potential to bring you many friend’s and great memories along the way.  

In conclusion

When it come’s to diet and exorcise, there is a plethora of recourses out there, go find them! Your journey is unique to you and I am not here to push my ways onto anyone. My goal is to give you a few bits of my favorite advice, a bit of understanding, and hopefully relieve some of the stress that come’s with beginning this process. I also would like to add that this may not all apply to you, and that’s absolutely okay as well, there is an abundance of ways to go about this and this is just one of many that I wanted to throw out there.
I would like to thank you for reading this, and wish you the best of luck on your journey! Feel free to explore this awesome website for an abundance of information fitness and training.

-Clark Morgan-


This article was a piece created by a great friend of mine, Clark Morgan. He has had amazing success with his weight loss journey and is now contributing an exceptional piece of content to help you with yours!

The Ultimate Christmas List For The Fitness Lover

It’s almost time for Black Friday! Which means Christmas is already around the corner. When shopping for someone that’s into fitness, there’s a couple things to pay attention to. 

Some people can be very picky. Not because they are a picky person but because of different factors that are involved in their training. Some things to keep an eye on and maybe ask if you aren’t sure is:

1. What kind of fitness are they into? 

Bodybuilding, CrossFit, powerlifting, yoga, etc. This can really help so you look in the right direction.

2. Supplement favorites?

Are they sensitive to caffeine, does whey protein mess with their stomach, do they have a flavor they can’t stand?

*DO NOT JUST TAKE A STAB IN THE DARK AND GRAB THE FIRST THING AT WALMART.

This can be an area where you might just want to avoid unless you have a really good idea what they use and like.

3. Do they have access to a gym?

This can decide whether to get some items or accessories for the gym or home.

4. Do they have this item already?

If it’s a supplement or subscription box then thats okay because it’s an investment that is made consistently. However if it’s a set of bands, do they have this set already? Do they need another set or should we grab something else?

So what makes the list?

Whether you have a family member, gym friend or you’re doing a random acts of kindness for someone into fitness, I plan of having you walk away knowing exactly what to pick for them! I have created a list of 10 items that you can’t go wrong with! Lets get started!

1) Fitness subscription box

Iron Crate

Every fitness lover finds monthly fitness subscription boxes super exciting! Think about it.. it’s basically a fitness Christmas each month! I love my monthly box I get from Iron Crate. We keep it exciting and fresh each month. We include the most trustworthy and highest quality products on the market. We also include workout programs to keep you busy in the gym and even throw in items that you can use such as shakers, gym accessories and fresh gear to wear!

Why try shopping for stuff and end up getting something they may not like when you can take out the middle man. We hand select the items each month and create a unique monthly Crate for our customers. We even take care of shipping too! 

The best thing about Iron Crate is that the retail value adds up to anywhere from $80-$130 each month but the monthly subscription customers only pay $39.99 a month for a box full of fitness goodies! So you can get up to $130 worth of fitness for only $39.99!

Go grab an Iron Crate for you, a family member or a gym buddy to make their Christmas! You can save 15% off your first Iron Crate with using the code “CRATE15” at checkout! 


Iron Crate

2) Healthy snacks

Healthy snacks are such a great choice! The best part is that it fits all categories of fitness! Iron Crate has you covered again. We also carry amazing snacks packed with protein that make great treats for any fitness enthusiast. One huge favorite is the protein candies we carry from MusclePharm. They taste just like M&Ms but without all the sugar that will affect your blood sugar levels. They are also a great source of protein and the taste is out of this world 🤤 I snack on these all the time when I’m craving chocolate.. which is almost everyday. Grab some items and fill up a stocking for your fitness lover this Christmas!


3) Vitamin D

Out of all vitamins, this one is going to be a huge seller this year. Most of us are deficient in vitamin D. They say that this specific vitamin may help protect against becoming infected with, and developing serious symptoms of COVID-19. 

Healthline.com saysA new study that looked at 216 people with COVID-19 found that 80 percent didn’t have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood

That is going to be one thing right off the bat that increases sales on this vitamin. Let me explain why this is a great gift idea other than that. Vitamin D is known for helping to have healthy muscles, bones and teeth. It can also help keep your immune system healthy, regulate energy levels and aid in brain health. The benefits of this vitamin are a tool most of us need, making it the perfect item to throw on the Christmas list this year.


At home gym equipment

It’s 2020.. the gyms have been closed down once. Let’s be honest, it won’t hurt to have a couple things at the house just to be safe.

Here’s a list of home gym items I would go with.

4) Yoga mat

This is a good option because for most fitness categories, you will typically want some kind of mat or padding on the floor. This can protect the weights, floor and the lifter.

5) Glute resistance band

Glute resistance band from Ironcrate.co

Let me explain why I LOVE these and think everyone needs one. Our glutes are naturally weak. Especially if we sit at school or at a desk all day. This can cause low back pain and issues with the hamstrings. This glute band can help increase strength in the glutes and hips.

If you are an athlete, this tool can aid you like no other. It can help pre-activate the glutes which essentially turns them on to increase strength during your workout. This can increase overall strength and lead to more muscle activation for bigger muscles and better performance.

I hear the girls in my gym talk about this all the time.. They want better and bigger glutes. This band WILL help if used properly.

I use this band for me and my clients before all of our lower body days in the gym. It is one of my favorite investments and I believe you will be just as happy as I was when you get one.

We sell these for an amazing price on Ironcrate.co , just click the button below and it will take you to the item on my website so you can pick one up before we sell out.

6) Adjustable dumbbells

Going with the adjustable ones compared to the ones that are coming already set at weights will save moolah. It also saves space which is a plus. You can get a good pair from places like Amazon or even Walmart. I would get a set with some kind of iron weights compared to the plastic weights. That is just my personal preference though. If you are on a surface where you need to take care of it, then plastic might be a better idea.

7) Resistance bands

This is a great gift idea. It is highly utilized by many fitness categories and has many functions making it a good tool to have at home.

There are 2 main bands that will pop up when you type this into the search bar. The ones on the left are great for exercise variety. If you don’t have dumbbells or any weights then this may be a better decision because it will give you more options. The bands on the right are very popular for other things. They do not have handles like the other set and are a closed band as to where the other set is open. These are great for athletes that do explosive workouts. It is also a great tool to have added in if you have a squat rack or bench set that can add band resistance. They will typically have pegs for bands on the bottom.

8) A good pair of wireless headphones

Notice I didn’t say Air Pods or Beats? This is one I would ask about if you think that person is picky because just like supplements or flavors, this can be one of those gifts that the person may want a specific pair. If you have the budget, I think Air Pods or Beats are the higher quality ones on the market. However, one of my brothers and sisters has a set of headphones that look just like Air Pods and operate at just about the same level, so if that person isn’t picky, those are a better option if you have a lower budget in mind.

This is personally one of the items on my list this year. I like my normal headphones but I find myself always in a hassle messing with the cord. I do a lot of work involving my headphones and don’t always want to carry my phone on me so I like the thought of not worrying about the wire getting in the way or getting stuck on everything.

9) Shaker bottle custom to their favorite interest

The shaker bottle companies have been changing the game lately with their special series they are always dropping. They have bottles with teams, super heroes, food items and yes even some with avocados working out on them.

As someone that loves a lot of different fitness categories, there is something about having a flashy shaker bottle or one that is custom to what your interest are that makes you feel some type of way. Remember that feeling when you got that fresh new Scooby lunch box back in 1st grade, and you couldn’t wait to show it off? Yea that feeling. So take note of what their interested in and search it up.

10) Smart Watch

Apple, Fitbit and Fossil have amazing smart watch products. No matter what category your fitness lover is into, the watch makes working out so much fun!

This is also a great gift to get a beginner because it can really keeps them motivated by little things like “filling the rings” on the watches. Basically it sets goals for you such as walking distance, calories burned, time standing, etc. As you accomplish the goals, it fills up rings on your watch. This is like checking off something on a to do list. It gives a great sense of accomplishment!

Lets WRAP this up, get it.. Christmas.. gifts..HA, not funny, I know

There are a lot of amazing products out there that are going to be brought to your attention due to high marketing around the holidays. This doesn’t mean you have to get the 1st thing you see on the commercials. Next thing you know, you’re getting a shake weight for your grandson that is into powerlifting. So trust me, this is a good list that can really meet expectations for all fitness categories.

Wanna see another list for a specific category such as athletes, cross fit, runners, etc? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you want to see! Also let me know if you have any items that you think should be added to the list!

Have a safe and fun Thanksgiving this week!

-Alex Costa-

How To Smoothie

Into smoothies and protein shakes? So am I! When I started to do my first couple smoothies, I wasn’t exactly sure how to start. I have always been one to do a traditional protein shake consisting of a scoop of protein and milk. So when I tried to wrap my head around putting spinach in that, the thought wasn’t making me jump with joy at first.

My mom and dad got me a ninja blender for smoothies a couple Christmas’ ago and that’s where I started to learn more about it. I tried a bunch of fruit and handful of greens in the first smoothie. I was so excited that I forgot to add any milk or water. Rookie mistake, I know. As I took my 1st sip and spit it all back out, I decided at that moment to learn more about the art of making a smoothie.

I tried a lot of different recipes and tried my own. Be ready for a bunch of failures if you try it yourself. Nothing wrong with it, don’t get discouraged at first. Just takes some time to learn how to properly mix up a solid smoothie.

As you start to get it all down, you can really spice it up with different ingredients.

I was looking through my social media feed today and saw a post from Precision Nutrition and loved it enough to want to share with you today! It was perfect for this article and really adds a visual to help you out!

One of my favorite ones to do is almond milk, chocolate protein powder, spinach, banana and peanut butter.

This post is from @precisionnutrition I love their content for nutrition 🥦

What’s a shake recipe you are thinking of trying out?

Like this content? Follow my gym page @Ironstrengthandconditioning for more health related tips! I post a lot of exercises, breakdowns, fitness/nutrition content as well as mental health content and plenty of helpful stuff for the athletes!

Have an amazing day!

-Alex Costa-

Are Eggs Healthy?

Are they friend or foe? There has been talk for a long time saying that consuming too many eggs can lead to high cholesterol levels. Is this true, should we slow down on eggs? Let us dig into some research and see what science has to say about this..

Humans have been eating eggs for a very long time, one article says approximately 6 million years and counting. Eggs back in the good ol hunting days were one of the easiest things for us to hunt and gather because unlike the mammoths and wild animals, the fragile egg never wanted to fight back. Hmm to hunt a saber tooth tiger or eggs… decisions, decisions.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is described in this article as a waxy fat substance in the body, particularly in the cells of your body. Cholesterol can also be found in foods we eat such as eggs, fatty meats and cheese. It isn’t always a bad thing however. Cholesterol helps the body by helping the body with producing new cells and hormones as well as helping the body with dissolving vitamins. Most of the production happens in the liver, but researchers say that it isn’t necessarily the amount of cholesterol we consume but how much saturated fat is consumed with ones diet. (MedicalNewsToday.com was a huge resource where I got some of this information above)

The article I read on Medlineplus.gov discusses how too much cholesterol can be a bad thing:

“If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque. Plaque sticks to the walls of your arteries. This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis. It can lead to coronary artery disease, where your coronary arteries become narrow or even blocked.”

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is broken down into 2 categories. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). These are important to remember because this is pretty much how we can tell if we have good cholesterol or not. The goal is to have more HDL and less LDL. This is because HDL helps with transferring cholesterol from around your body back to your liver, which is good because as it is moved to the liver, it processes it and gets rid of the bad cholesterol for you. Now on the other hand, LDL is the bad kind because this is the kind we hear about causing heart attacks and strokes due to it increasing a build up of plaque in the arteries.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is a mixture of a handful of things. The main things that tend to increase the chances of having high cholesterol is having too many LDL in your body as learned above. Also not being active, eating a lot of saturated fats from items such as deep-fried and processed foods. Smoking also lowers our HDL which is our good cholesterol as it raises the LDL count which is our bad cholesterol, this part is especially true for women according to this article I read. Also pay attention to your family health history, if your family has had problems with cholesterol then take precautions by getting checked by your doctor on a regular basis of his recommendation.

So What About The Eggs?

Eggs do indeed have a yolk that can include up to 200mg of cholesterol which is one of the richest among other foods however eggs also contain a bunch of health benefits including some benefits that can decrease chances of heart disease.

Some things that we like to see in eggs are:

  • Vitamins A, B, B12, D
  • Iodine
  • Folate
  • protein
  • Healthy fat

It is a plus having the option to get eggs in organic forms and cage free which are a good option. If not the normal eggs are still there and for a very good price which makes it a convenient food to have in the fridge.

This is a part of an article I read from Harvard that I wanted to include for those who may have a health history of high cholesterol, diabetes or anything that would need to be discussed with their doctor:
“In studies including the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, heart disease risk was increased among men and women with diabetes who ate one or more eggs a day.  For people who have diabetes and heart disease, it may be best to limit egg consumption to no more than three yolks per week.”

Here is another part of the same article from above, I believe this was apart of their conclusion:
“While eggs may be a much better choice than sugary, refined grain-based options like sweetened breakfast cereals, pancakes with syrup, muffins, or bagels, they may fall short of other options. A bowl of steel-cut oats with nuts and berries, for example, will be a much better choice for heart health than an egg-centric breakfast. Consumption of whole grains and fruit predict lower risk of heart disease, and when it comes to protein, plant sources like nuts and seeds are related to lower cardiovascular and overall mortality, especially when compared to red meat or eggs.”

That is something I do want to point out for your health because I am not saying to go eat a stack of eggs everyday, I am saying to do your research. Talk to your doctor about your cholesterol and overall health and what diet would be best for you.

Conclusion

In any dieting advice you chose to follow, I always recommend talking to your family physician and a registered dietitian to ensure you are healthy enough to participate in any new diet. I also highly recommend getting your blood work done regularly/annually depending on your health. It is a good thing to go over your numbers with your doctor and ask any questions you have as well as discuss any nutritional guidance you should be following.

I personally eat eggs almost everyday, I try to substitute 1-3 days with a different alternative. After reading all of the articles and studies, I will try throwing other healthy options such as the steel cut oats with berries and nuts. I still believe for me personally, eating a few eggs on a regular basis shouldn’t hurt but I will be discussing topics like this with my doctor to get a professional opinion.

I hope this article helps you, I know cholesterol can be an important topic for many. Especially with an alarming number like 3,000,000 cases each year having high cholesterol. So please share this on social media and with friends and family because this could really help someone with their health and wellness.

Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!
-Alex Costa-

Resources:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323001.php
https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html

Pros And Cons Of Supplements

The fitness and supplement industry has bombarded us with advertisements and have recorded 122 billion in sales as of 2016. That number is expected to grow up to 278.02 billion by 2024, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 9.6% from 2016 to 2024, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. Yea and we’re talking billion with a B. That is insane!

Now the big question is, what are the goods and bad of supplements? Well in my opinion, it depends on your goal, health status and what you’re looking for. Technically you could get gains without supplements but I do believe they have their part and can help speed up the process.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons here…

Pros

Helps speed up results
Depending on what you are looking for and what you purchase, the results can be introduced a little faster. A main reason for this is because of most common supplements holding an ingredient blend for recovery. For example BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) hold ingredients such as L-Glutamine, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine and so forth. These are ingredients that can help in regulating the blood-sugar levels, promote the recovery of muscle and bone tissues, as well as the production of growth hormone. So they can add some nice benefits there.

Quality supplements are gold
Ask anyone who has been with the same supplements or company for a long time. Quality supplements and service are a great combo. When you get taken care of and are happy with how the products work and taste, it commonly ensures you that your purchase was worth it and they will continue you deliver good products with a high quality service as well.

Correcting nutrient deficiencies
For some out there, supplements are best to help with nutrient deficiencies. An article I read says “One analysis of US national survey data (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006) found that children and adults with high intakes of added sugars (>25% of energy intake; the upper limit recommended by the National Academy of Medicine) had lower dietary intakes of several micronutrients, especially vitamins A, C, and E, as well as magnesium. An estimated 13% of the US population have added sugar intakes above this cutoff level for added sugars and may be at risk for micronutrient inadequacies.” This is alarming, not only are our eating habits falling drastically and have been declining each year more and more but this type of habit leads to vitamin and nutrient deficiency. That can lead to a number of things, mental health being one big one. Mental health such as anxiety and depression can really be triggered by nutrient deficiencies. Another part of the article mentions “Very low dietary intake of a vitamin or nutritionally essential mineral can result in deficiency disease, termed micronutrient deficiency. Micronutrient deficiencies, especially iron, vitamin A, zinc, iodine, and folate, are prevalent in the developing world, affecting an estimated 2 billion people worldwide. They are a major contributor to infections and associated with severe illness and death”

Now let us look at some cons…

Cons

Bye bye money
As you seen in the opening paragraph of this article, the supplement industry has definitely made its way into our wallets. Some places you go, you’ll see supplements for higher prices so if you do want supplements go somewhere where they have a good price on them or look for deals going on. Bodybuilding.com and MuscleandStrength.com always have some pretty good deals. I get most of my supplements from MaxEffortMuscle.com which also runs quiet a few deals.

Not the same as real food
There is no way around this one. Supplements are just that, they supplement the body. They are not whole nutrients from real food. A lot of dietitians and health experts will say that you can’t get the type of nutrients whole foods offer from a supplement, I agree. Whole healthy food is numero uno.


Some supplement companies aren’t 100% truthful with the ingredients
An article I read revealed that “calorie counts on food labels, for example, can be off by 20% in some cases and still be in compliance with FDA regulations.” FDA stands for Food and Drug Administration.

With that being said, another article says “The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe BEFORE they go to market.” I wanted to include this to give some background information on the FDA because it seems like they always get a bad rep. However when a supplement contains an ingredient that is new to the market, the FDA must be notified by the supplement companies manufacturers about it. The FDA will review the ingredient for safety, not effectiveness which is something that stuck out to me.

Conclusion
In my personal opinion, I enjoy supplements and believe they surely have their place depending on a couple factors. I wouldn’t solely rely on supplements to get you to your goals but think of them as a helping hand, aiding in recovery and other small task that can make a huge difference.

Whatever you decide to do, supplements or no supplements, I would do some research and talk to someone that has knowledge on supplements, vitamins and nutrition such as a registered dietitian or a doctor. Make sure you check with your physician and ensure you are all good to start any diet plan or taking any supplement.

Thank you for reading todays article, I hope this helps you! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I would love to help you out.
-Alex Costa-

Additional resources:
-healthresearchfunding.org
-https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview

8 Foods That Can Scientifically Improve Memory

With finals coming up for all of my students out there, studying can get exhausting and tiring. One big thing you can do to help is focus on your health, especially what you’re eating.

I want to give you some foods you can try to throw into your diet to help increase your memory!

#1 Broccoli


Broccoli is known for its health benefits and one of the most popular veggies among the rest. It is high in vitamin K which has been revealed in a couple studies to be linked to an increase in memory. However this study was conducted on 320 conductees that were between 70-85 years old that had no cognitive impairment. I believe it is safe to say if you don’t completely get the memory benefits, it will be very beneficial in other areas of your health!

#2 Pumpkin seeds


I went through very bad anxiety/panic attacks consistently a couple years ago until I read more on the nutrition aspect of the mental health industry. I found that magnesium can help immensely with your brain function which in turn can help with things such as anxiety and depression. I recently found that magnesium can be essential for your memory and learning!

With Pumpkin seeds being high in magnesium, they make a super simple snack to incorporate, especially during finals week!

#3 Spinach


Time to break out the spinach like Pop-Eye. Spinach is very high in vitamin k and in magnesium. Based off of what we have learned so far, that is a good sign. Start throwing in some more salads or throw some spinach in with a meal. This is a food that will help in more ways than one!

#4 Avocados


No surprise, avocados are in most top food list due to numerous health benefits they offer. Avocados are high in vitamin k and folate. These two nutrients combined with the mono-saturated fat content can decrease chances of stroke because it can help reduce the chances of blood clots. Avocados can also help with memory and concentration which is what we like to hear! Hit up my easy guacomole recipe!

#5 Fatty Fish


With the brain being comprised of about 60% of fat (mainly omega -3), it makes sense that this would be a good one to add to the list. If you look closely, most of this list is made up of healthy fats.

A study found that regularly eating fish that was baked or broiled could increase grey matter in the brain. Grey matter holds the nerve cells that make decisions, memories and control your emotions. Some of the best options you can get are salmon, tuna, trout and sardines.

#6 Berries


Berries are something you can throw in with cereal, yogurt, smoothies and shakes or just have as a snack. This makes it super easy to add them in immediately.

A study says that “the berry fruit may exert their effects directly through alterations in cell signaling to improve/increase neuronal communication, calcium buffering, neuroprotective stress shock proteins, plasticity, antioxidant/anti-inflammatory action, stress signaling pathways and inhibition of acetylcholinesterase.

So in other words, berries are high in antioxidants, improve neuron communication in the cell, increases the plasticity, which will help brain cells form new connections promoting learning and memory enhancement. This same study also mentions that more clinical trials need to be done to see the effects of berries on therapeutic agents for brain-related diseases.

A good example of berries to go for regarding this article suggest blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.

#7 Walnuts


Every nut is a powerhouse of nutrients but nothing compares to the walnut on the charts in this study. Walnuts are a great source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), the plant form of omega-3 fats. They had a count of 2.5 grams compared to the others such as pecans which was the closest having 0.5 grams, then followed by peanuts, almonds and pistachios which all come in at 0 grams. I have a chart below I used to show you a visual of this.

This graph is being used from bebrainfit.com, they had a great article on this!

There was an interesting study showing that an increase consumption of walnuts showed a significant increase in reaction time, learning, and memory recall compared to those who did not eat them. The study was done with conductees that were the ages of 20-90 years old and they saw an increase all across the board no matter what gender you are or the age. So I would go out and start looking for walnuts for better brain function!

#8 Olive Oil


There is always a lot of controversial conversations surrounding olive oil. “It’s the healthiest thing for you”, “it’s bad news”. Here’s the thing, no matter what in my opinion, we can’t deny how olive oil is better that some other choices out there for you. I have read articles claiming both health benefits and no health benefits. It gets even more confusing when you start reading into studies.

Olive oil is high in vitamin K and E, paired with being a monounsaturated fat, we have a formula for something here that could improve brain performance based off of what we read today so far.

An article I read explains that diets such as the Mediterranean diet higher in olive oil can reduce chances of Alzheimer’s up to 40%. The MIND diet has the ability to reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s more than 50%. If you are a younger adult this may not interest you as much as an older or even mid aged adult. This is still a very important topic because it can decrease chances so it may not be a bad idea to look more into this topic especially if Alzheimer’s runs in your family.

The other benefit I enjoy about olive oil is that it is pretty easy to incorporate into a diet. You can use it for cooking which makes it easy to get more olive oil into your diet. One more remark I would like to add on olive oil is that although I use it in my diet, I try not to overdue it when I use it, as many vitamins out there, too much may be as bad as too little.

In conclusion
I believe that healthy fats can definitely play a role in our brain function as well as other nuts, berries and seeds. There are more things out there, I just researched many articles and studies to see which ones came up the most and why. It is a good idea to eat healthy not only for your future self and body but you should also do so because it can help increase performance mentally as well as physically.

I really value your opinions and feedback so please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me and let me know how you liked this article. Would you like to see more like this and on what topics? Thank you again for taking the time to better yourself today. By reading this, I know you take your health seriously, so make sure you keep coming back for more new content on the website. Also follow me on my social media links shown below for even more helpful tips including exercises, workouts, nutrition, increased athletic performance and so much more!

Follow me on Instagram
Follow my gym Instagram account
Follow me on Twitter
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
Add me on SnapChat: Costa_1

Thank you and have an awesome day!
-Alex Costa-

Disclaimer:
Please check with your physician before using anything on this article. I am not a registered dietitian and although I researched and used scientific studies in a lot of the material here, your health history or medical stand point may need assistance of other foods, vitamins or supplements so check in with your doctor / physician before making any drastic changes in your diet.
Thank you.

Other resources:

-https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods#section1
-https://www.ncu.edu/blog/best-brain-foods-studying-and-memory-boosts#gref
-https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044.php

Pictures from:
-https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/vegetable-of-the-month-broccoli
-https://loveonetoday.com/how-to/pick-buy-fresh-avocados/
-https://bebrainfit.com/brain-foods/
-https://www.tannersfish.com/product/alaskan-king-salmon/
-https://atasteofolive.com/products/novello-di-gradassi
-https://nuts.com/nuts/walnuts/english-in-shell.html
-https://www.nutritionadvance.com/types-of-berries/
-https://www.livescience.com/51324-spinach-nutrition.html
-https://nuts.com/snacks/pumpkinseeds/organic.html

Simple Eating Plan To Follow

Important Disclaimer

I would like to start this article off by saying that I am not a registered dietitian, so I can not give you a plan and say “do this”, “eat that”, “take this”. That goes outside of my profession. I will say that I do know my fair share on nutrition, supplements and health topics so I am no rookie when it comes to it. This eating plan is used as an example and for content purposes only. Speak with your physician before starting any diet or taking any supplements to ensure you are all good to go. If you use this, I am not at fault, for using anything on this website is YOUR DECISION.

Now that we have that all cleared up, lets get started!!

One common thing I am asked about is “what should I be eating?”, “whats a good option for my meal?” So here in todays article, I figured I would make a super simple example eating plan that you can use to follow along with or use as a template. This plan is not really a “bulking” plan and not necessarily a “cutting” plan either. It is just a basic healthy meal plan with good options. I am not claiming that this is the best meal plan out there, you would need to find one that suits your needs, goals and health history. As mentioned before this is just a plan of healthy options so if you have a hard time eating healthy and you need a first step or just want some more options then this could be for you.

Each meal is listed out below. For some options I put an amount for example “2-3 eggs”. That is something I would use but may not be the same for another persons caloric needs. Keep that in mind, I good option in my opinion for foods like meats are about 4-10 ounces. Veggies for me would be 1-2 cups.

Breakfast: 2-3 eggs, half cup of plain oatmeal with almond milk or water, add cinnamon and berries for flavor. One of the most important meals of the day!

Snack: Cheese stick and an apple. Simple yet delicious!

Lunch: Grilled chicken salad (salad made of baby spinach or kale or both)
Add a very small pinch of cheese, and mixed veggies such as carrots, mushrooms, peppers. If you add dressing, try using a vinaigrette as these tend to be a healthier option.

Snack #2 (if you get a hungry): 1 serving size of almonds or cashews, let me repeat the “1 serving size”. Nuts can be high in calories due to the fat count so make sure you weigh these or measure them out so you can control your portions.

Dinner: Ground turkey (93% lean, 7% fat is a good option in my opinion), veggies ( I like to use broccoli or mixed veggies) and an avocado or baked potato (alternate on different nights. Both are going to add quiet a bit of calories in one serving)

*Please keep an eye out for allergies, this layout has foods that are a common allergy for many such as nuts and cheese/dairy.

So there you have it, this is something super simple and very easy to put together for the week. Just write a list for the grocery store, get everything needed and bring it back and make some food to pack in containers for the week. You can store them in the fridge if you’d like and that way they are ready to take on the go or ready to pop in the microwave for a healthy meal.

Nutrition is one of the most important things you have to have in check if you are looking to make some serious progress. I hope this helps you even if it’s just seeing an example eating plan laid out for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me through email or social media!

Have a great Monday!
-Alex Costa-

Healthy Recovery Bowl Recipe

Healthy Recovery Bowl Recipe

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! I had a little bit of a busier weekend with it being more of a birthday weekend, woot woot. I finished an ab workout on Sunday and wanted something with a little carbs but not too many, I opened up Instagram and saw a recipe on my guy Dustin Myers page (go follow him @coachmyers_gutcheck). Great guy and amazing strength and conditioning coach. Anyway, it was a little different than this but not by much so I threw my own thing together and it turned out amazing! Full of nutrients and nothing that was going to leave me “too full” whatever that means.

Here’s a quick throw together recipe you can do within 5 minutes! All you need is:

These are the ingredients I used here above in the picture
  • Oats (half cup)
  • Almond milk (about a half cup or full cup depending on preference)
  • Almond butter (1 tablespoon)
  • Chia seeds (1 teaspoon)
  • Blueberries (I did a mini handful)

First you can take care of the oats and milk by mixing them and throwing them in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes. After you take them out, let it cool for just a moment then place a tablespoon of almond butter on top. Afterwards, I threw the blueberries in on one side, then came the chia seeds to top it off.

This snack is full of vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients to kickstart your day and give you some energy! This was delicious and only took a few minutes to put together. Try it out and let me know how you like it!! Also feel free to throw in different fruits and toppings to match what you are craving!

Have a great Monday!

-Alex Costa-