Plant Based Protein Powder Review

Let’s be honest it is no secret that plant based protein powders can taste like butt.  It is easily the number one complaint I hear about them.  The number two complaint is the belief that plant based proteins are not as healthy as animal based ones.  It’s time to put those complaints to rest.


Strawberry Banana smoothie made with our new favorite plant based protein powder

My kids and I went on a mission taste tested over 20 plant based protein powders in hopes of finding a good one. It was A LOT harder than expected.  We ended up having to take an extended break from testing tasting, because some of the powders were just so bad the kids began refusing to try any more. In the end we did find a couple that not only we liked, but they now are in regular rotation in our diets. Scroll on down to see our picks.


First off, its important to know: no matter what your goals are, consuming adequate amounts of protein is imperative. Regardless, if you are aiming for fat loss, muscle gain, better performance or just to look better/feel better you need protein.  (For more info on protein in the diet, including how much you should eat, check out my previous article here).

But why powdered protein?

Powdered protein supplements can be helpful when you struggle to get enough protein in your diet from whole foods.  (*You should always aim to meet your needs with whole 1st first!)

They are just so dang convenient. What other protein can you just throw in your gym bag or purse and go? Chicken breast? Not quite.

Are plant based proteins as good as animal based?

Short answer, yes. The biggest con is their taste and texture.  They tend to taste like dirt and have a gritty mouth feel (hence why we went on this massive taste testing mission. The good news we did discovered one that tastes good, doesn’t have a funky after taste and isn’t gritty)

Plant proteins may not be as rich in some amino acids as animal proteins, like whey and egg. They also are slightly less digestible. Proteins are evaluated on a scale from 1-0 based on their amino acid content and digestibility known as their protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS). The animal based ones (whey, egg, casein) all score a 1, as does soy.  However, the plant based sources score a little lower.  Pea isolate is .89, and rice is .5 and hemp is a .46

What about complete protein?  So, the bro at your gym told you they are waste because they are not a complete protein?  Tell that bro to read up in his science.  True some do not have complete amino acid profile when they are consumed alone. (Complete amino acid profile means they contain the 9 essential amino acids. Essential amino are the ones we must get from our diet, as our body cannot make them.)  As long as you are eating a variety of protein sources, you will get all the amino.  If this is something that especially concerns you, look for powders that have combined pea and rice as they each supply the other’s lacking amino acids and together make a complete protein. Or consider soy. Soy is a complete protein on its own.

Ok then, knowing all this why choose plant based protein?

Allergies, intolerances, variety, ethical reasons.

If you are allergic or intolerant to animal proteins, you will need a plant based one.

You probably already know if you are allergic to an animal protein but just in case if you experience any of the following: hives, itching, eczema, tightness in throat, swelling then those are clear sign you need to avoid that protein (and consult with a medical doctor, duh)

If you are lactose intolerant. If you experience nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pains or excessive burping or flatulence after consuming a dairy based protein, you may be lactose intolerant.

If you find yourself feeling bloated, stuffy/congested, excessive mucus production or general stomach upset after consuming a protein powder (dairy especially) those are all signs you may be intolerant.

And ethical. Many people choose to avoid animal based proteins based on ethical and environmental beliefs.

In the end, variety is the spice of life. As long as you get a variety of sources of protein throughout your day you are golden.  Not only will your decrease your risk of developing intolerances you also will get a balanced nutrition.

You can develop intolerances later in life, so just because you did well with dairy in your 20’s doesn’t guarantee you can handle in in your 40’s.  There are studies out there showing people who do not have variety in their diet (especially with protein) are more opt to develop intolerances later on. So mix it up.

What to look for when picking a plant based protein?

Watch out for powders called meal replacement powders (MRE). Usually they will be very high in carbs/ sugars and fats.  I am in the camp of adding in my own carbs and fats to my personal liking or needs.  Also this enables us to mix it up not get bored with any one flavor. Chocolate peanut butter today strawberries and cream tomorrow! Also since plant based powders tend to taste like dirt, a lot of companies will add in extra sugars and fats to help make them more appeasing.

Watch those ingredient lists, especially if turning to plant based proteins due to intolerances or allergies. Many brands have a huge list of extra ingredients.  Anything from a complete vitamins and minerals to a bucket list of “super foods”.  The longer the list the bigger the chance of having a reaction. (FYI if you are also avoiding gluten, be very wary of any product that contains wheat grass. And a lot of these powders do contain wheat grass.  Long story short it is VERY difficult for a company to produce truly gluten free wheat grass. But that is another story for another day)

Our Winner winner vegan dinner.

We decided to only test pea, rice and hemp brands and skip soy proteins.  Many people who are intolerant to dairy are also intolerant to soy.  Also soy proteins just don’t taste as bad as the other plant based powders.

All taste tests were conducted the same.  One serving protein of vanilla flavored plant based protein mixed in a blender with 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries and 6-10 oz. plain unsweetened cashew milk.

DSC_0054In the end the family unanimously agreed that Garden of Life SPORT was the winner. (Be warned, however, there were two other Garden of Life brand proteins that ranked as the worst).

This protein was tasty enough, we were even able to use it in making a healthier, higher protein, lower carb Chex Muddy Buddies by subbing out half the  powder sugar with protein powder.

higher protein lower carb Chex Muddy Buddies

A higher pro, lower carb muddy buddies by subbing 1/2 the powder sugar with Garden Of Life plant based protein powder.


Runner up:

Vega One All-in-one came in second place. I personally was not a fan, but the kids were ok with it.  I felt it has a funky after taste.  Who knew I would be the picky one in this.


In the end remember:

Variety is good.

Don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to benefit from including plant based proteins.

And contrary to internet bro science you can still gain lean muscle mass while consuming plant based proteins.

Just watch those ingredient list and nutritional breakdowns.



One Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Canadian Bacon and Egg Breakfast (Paleo friendly, Wheat free, Dairy free)

Mornings are tough.  Eating healthy in the mornings can be even tougher.  The real trick to a smooth morning is prepping as much as possible the night before.


Since we don’t need to make the morning any more hectic, this recipe  only dirties one pan. Less clean-up is always a win. Plus, it doesn’t require constant supervision while cooking.  Freeing you up to do other, more important things.  You know, like convincing children to put on their clothes. Or taking a shower.

For this one pan brekkie, prep the Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and ham the night ahead.  You can even prep the ingredients a few nights ahead of time.  The trick is using time when you have it available. I personally like to do some prep work every night while I am cleaning up from dinner. The kitchen is already in disarray so I won’t have to clean it twice.

But veggies for breakfast?!

We really need to be eating vegetables at every single meal.  Yes, that includes breakfast. Not only do they provide much needed micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient) they also can help us feel full and have less cravings later in the day.

Vegetables are relatively low in sugar while being high in water and fiber.  Both water and fiber can help us to feel full. When we feel and satisfied not only are we less likely to overeat. Also when we regularly include fibrous veggies in out meals we naturally will eat less of the more calorically dense foods.

Where’s the grain?

Not everyone does best with grains based breakfasts.  Some people find, when they start their day off with certain foods, even if they are generally considered healthy, their cravings are more ravishing all day long.  The trick is to experiment and find what works best for you.  You may find that by omitting grains (cereals, toast, oatmeal) you feel better. Or perhaps, you may feel hungry all day long if you forgo your usual grain based breakfast.  Try both and find what works well for you.  If it turns out you need those grains in the morning, just swap out the sweet potatoes in this recipe for a slice of toast.


Roasted brussels sprouts, sweet taters, Canadian bacon and eggs
One Pan Brussels Sprouts, Sweet taters, Canadian bacon and eggs


1 lbs Brussel sprouts

1 Tb olive oil


2 cups chopped diced Sweet potatoes (about 200 grams, or one large)

8 oz Canadian Bacon (look for a lower fat variety, like Niman Ranch or Boars head)

4 Eggs


The night before:

Chop clean and prep the Brussel sprouts. Cut the bottom of and cut in half.  Throw in the fridge.  Peel and dice the sweet potatoes.  Throw in pot of water and boil till JUST for tender.  (I like to do this to a bunch of potatoes, then I have them ready all week long). Chop the Canadian bacon. Place all prepped items in fridge.


In the morning:

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt.  Spread out on pan, in a single layer.  Put in oven for 15 mins. This is a great time to hop in the shower, make coffee or try and convince the children to put clothes on.

After 15 mins give them a stir.  Toss in Canadian bacon and sweet taters. Cook for 10 mins.

Remove from the oven and make four wells, and spritz the wells with cooking spray.  Crack eggs in to wells and put back in the oven.  Depending on how you like your eggs cook 5-10 mins.  (I found at 10 minutes the yolks were fully set)


Nutrition for ¼ the pan:

298 calories. 28 grams of carbohydrates. 11 grams of fat. 25 grams of protein.


one pan roasted


Deconstructed Taco Salad Bowl with an Avocado Lime Dressing (Dairy Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Paleo Friendly)


Let’s get straight to the point; tacos are delicious. The problem with tacos is not only can they can be calorically dense but they also tend to be lacking in the vegetable department.  One way to combat this: turn your tacos into a deconstructed taco salad bowl.


Taco salad bowl with a dairy free and egg free avocado lime dressing.

Even with the bowls, however, you have to watch those toppings. Sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado and the deep fried shell all add up fast.

Here are a few ways you can lighten up your taco bowl:

  • Replace deep fried high fat shell with homemade chips (if paleo, replace with plantain chips.)
  • Replace multiple high fat toppings with an avocado-lime dressing.
  • Replace high sodium taco seasoning with homemade.
  • And add in lots of veggies.

Homemade tortilla chips have less fat and carbs then store bought chips.

To assemble your bowls, just fill with whatever veggies you have in your fridge.  I like a mix of romaine and spinach. Then I throw in some tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snap peas (for that crunch!), bell peppers, green onions.  Add meat of your choice. I used ground beef for this one, but flank steak or chicken breast with some tex mex seasoning goes great (Check out my tex mex seasoning on Instagram here). Drizzle some avocado lime dressing over it, maybe a little pico de gallo or salsa and grab a handful of homemade chips. And there you have it, a healthier more satisfying version of your standard taco.


For the chips:

Corn tortillas

Spray coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cut tortillas into triangles or strips
  3. Spritz with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Cook for 8-10 mins.  Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly.


Taco Meat:

2 pounds extra lean ground beef or turkey.

½ onion finely diced.

3 garlic cloves

1 Tb cumin

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

2 tb tomato paste

1 cup tomato sauce

  1. In a large, deep sided skillet brown the meat. Breaking it up into small pieces. Add onion garlic and seasonings. Cook till onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Cover and cook on med low for 1/2 hour. Taste and add salt and spices as needed. (This recipe is kid friendly so it is very mild.)


For the Avocado lime dressing:

1/3 cup nondairy plain unsweetened creamer (I used the Nutpod brand, but you can replace with a mixture of coconut milk and nut milk.)

1 avocado

1 bunch of cilantro

1/2 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

2 scallions

1 tb olive oil

juice from 1 lime.

  1. Throw everything into the blender and blend till nice and creamy.  You may need to add a few tablespoons water to thin it out to desired consistency.






Simple Extra Crispy Oven Roasted Chicken Quarters

Poor, poor chicken. It gets so hated on.  Too dry. Too plain. Too boring. Well yeah, I suppose it could be all those things if you don’t do anything to it and just threw it in the oven.  With a little creativity chicken can be great again.

One of the problems with chicken, is we tend to always reach for the same cut of meat.  It is a good idea, not only for the taste buds, but also for our bodies to mix that up once in a while.


The extra crispy skin on these chicken leg quarters make it extra tasty. 

Dark meat gets a bad rap as being less healthy then white meat. While dark meat does have more fat, it also has more iron, zinc, niacin and riboflavin.  Plus, it does not have a huge amount more fat.   100 grams of chicken leg, roasted without the skin has 8 grams.  While 100 grams of cooked chicken breast without the skin has 4 grams.  The trick here is not to serve chicken legs with a fatty side dish.  If you are serving chicken legs, you need to consider the meat your protein and fat source for the meal.

Now about that chicken skin.  It is crispy and delicious. It’s super fatty and unhealthy, or is it?

One chicken leg roasted with the skin on has 9 grams of fat (3 grams coming from saturated fat) and that same chicken leg cooked without the skin has 5 grams of fat (1 gram saturated).  So, yes it does have more fat, but not tons more.  In the end, it really is ok to eat the chicken skin occasionally!

If you are still uncomfortable with that amount of fat you can do skinless. Just do not by the overpriced skinless meat.  Remove the skin yourself and you can save quite a bit of money.  I find it easiest to grip the skin with a paper towel and pull. However, when roasting or grilling the meat I advise you do not remove the skin off before cooking. Cooking with the skin intact helps keep the meat tender and flavorful. You can remove it prior to eating.


Below is my simple chicken quarters recipe, but it would also work for chicken breast.  You might balk at the use of dill here, but it goes really well with the soy sauce. I promise.  The soy sauce helps to make the chicken skin extra flavorful and crispy.  If you are planning  to remove the skin before eating then, make sure you put the seasoning UNDER the skin.


Simple Roasted Chicken Quarters

  • 4 skin on, bone in chicken leg quarters
  • soy sauce, about 1/3 cup
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried dill weed


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Using paper towels pat dry the chicken.  Gently slip one finger between the skin and the meat and loosen the skin from the meat.  Making sure skin still stays attached.
  3. Place chicken pieces on large glass baking dish.
  4. Using a marinade brush, brush under the skin with soy sauce.
  5. Brush entire legs with remaining soy sauce. (You don’t need to use all the soy sauce. Just until the chicken has been completely painted)
  6. Sprinkle with seasonings. (If you plan to not eat the skin, put the seasoning under the skin)
  7. Place on middle rack and bake for 45 mins to 1 hour.
  8. If the skin did not crisp up, increase oven temp to 400 and continue to cook for about 5 to 10 mins.  Keep a close eye on it so the skin doesn’t burn.
  9. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temp of 165.


Crispy Oven RoastedChicken Leg quarters


Brown vs White. The Rice Debate


So, which one should you eat? Brown or white rice? The quick and dirty answer? Whichever one you prefer the taste of and it works best for you. Seriously.  There are pros and cons to both of them.


Brown or White? Which is the better choice?

I can hear the protesting now. But wait a hot second! Isn’t brown rice healthier?! No way, white is healthier, brown rice has arsenic! Hold on, white rice causes diabetes! But brown rice pokes holes in your intestines!

If you want the more in depth answer, then keep on reading.

But wait a second, brown rice is the healthier choice. Right?

Brown rice is a whole grain. With white rice the bran and germ have been removed.  Many nutrients are found in the bran and the germ (other things are also found in the bran and germ, but we’ll get to that in a bit).  When you line them up side by side, brown rice does have a smidge more macronutrients then white. However, white rice is higher in some micronutrients too.

Brown Rice Vs White Rice

based of info from

Brown rice is higher in niacin, B6, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. While white rice has more thiamin, folate and iron. Brown rice also has a more fiber and a bit more fat then white.

Hold up! But I read that brown rice has arsenic in it!

Sadly, yes. In 2010 and then again in 2014, consumer reports tested 60 different varieties of rice and rice based products.  They found measurable levels of inorganic arsenic in almost everything they tested (To read their original report go here)

Arsenic is a heavy metal that is toxic. Long term exposure may increase risk for chronic diseases.  Regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic increase your risk for multiple different cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  While arsenic is naturally occurring in nature, it is believed that we are seeing an increase in our food supply due to pollution.

Not all rice is the same. Brown rice has 80% more inorganic arsenic then white rice. While white basmati and white sushi rice have the lowest amounts.  Interestingly, white rice from California, India or Pakistan is the lowest, with 38% less arsenic then the same type grown elsewhere.  Any type of rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana or Texas has the highest amounts of arsenic.

If you are eating rice often, are pregnant or are feeding a small child, this is something to keep in mind. (FYI, babies should not eat more than 1 serving rice cereal per day and children under 5 should not drink rice milks instead of dairy milk due to the unsafe amounts of arsenic. Just one rice cake, has a child’s weekly limit of arsenic in it).

If you are just consuming white Basmati or sushi rice, you are safe to eat one serving per day. However, keep in mind if you also consume any  rice based pastas, rice cakes, rice cereals and rice based baking mixes as those contain arsenic, too.

The good news is, they have found that rinsing the rice very thoroughly before cooking it, and cooking it with a much higher water to rice ratio helps to reduce the amount of arsenic. (The recommended amount is 6 cups water to 1 cup rice, and draining the excess water off once the rice is cooked)

But doesn’t white rice cause diabetes?

There is a study that found those who eat 5 or more servings white rice a week may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. [1] Keep in mind that is 5 or more servings a week, and these studies did not account for lifestyle or other food choices. Over consuming any carbohydrate will increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. 

The same study also noted that people who consumed white rice were more likely to have a family history of diabetes and those who consumed more brown rice were more likely to live a healthier lifestyle.

Doesn’t white rice cause your insulin to spike?

Some foods can cause our blood sugar to rise very fast.  This is measured by the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a number, from 0 to 100, and it is based on how fast that food will raise your blood sugar after eating. The higher the number the faster it will cause your blood sugar to rise.  Brown rice has a glycemic index of 50 while white has one of 72.

The glycemic index is not a marker of how healthy a food is, just is effects on blood sugar.  For example, pizza has a very low index number, but that does not automatically make it a healthy food choice. When you also consume fat or protein along with the rice, that will lower the GI index slightly.

The glycemic index can be important tool not only for those who are trying to control their blood sugar but also for those who are very serious about their workout nutrition.  It can be, slightly, more advantageous to consume high glycemic index carbs in the 2 hours following a strenuous workout.  The high GI carbs cause a spike in insulin which both decreases muscle breakdown and increases protein synthesis.  This is why many tout white rice a a perfect after workout carb source.

White Rice

White rice does have a high glycemic index, which can make is a great post workout carb source.

I read on the internet that brown rice is bad for you because it pokes holes in your gut and causes all kind of diseases??

Well, yes, no and maybe. First quick background.  Our intestines are supposed to have some permeability.  That way nutrients can pass to our blood supply.  Sometimes things go wrong and our gut allows things that it supposed to be keeping out cross. You’ll hear this referred to as leaky guy or increased gut permeability or intestinal hyperpermeabilty.

Leaky gut has been linked to food sensitivities, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, autism, skin conditions, and thyroid problems.  Leaky gut is not an official medical diagnosis.  They are only starting to study it and understand it. However, just because there is lack of research and evidence does not mean it does not exist.

Back to brown rice. Brown rice contains lectins. Lectins are a type of protein that we are unable to digest.  Since we cannot digest them, they damage the lining of our GI tract as they pass through.  Now keep in mind all food damages our GI tract as it passes.  Normally our bodies repair the damage fairly quickly.  With lectins, however, this process may be slowed.

With repeated over exposure (key words here repeated over exposure!) many believe this can lead to increased permeability.

Keep in mind lectins are also found in many other foods like dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shell fish.  The good news is the effects of these lectins on our GI tract lasts only as long as they are in the body.

In the end, really only people with autoimmune issues or digestive issues really need to be concerned with the amount of lectins they are consuming.

Rice can be part of a healthy diet.  Special populations may need to choose wisely though.

  • Those who consume a lot of rice based products (like rice based pastas, cereal and baking mixes) should look into white basmati and sushi rice grown in California.
  • Those who are at risk of developing type II diabetes or attempting to lose weight would do best to limit their carbohydrate intake all together and choose brown rice when acceptable.
  • Those hoping to gain muscle mass with no other health issues, can choose as they wish.
  • Those with autoimmune conditions or GI disease may need to limit their intake of brown rice.

For everyone else, weigh your options and pick as you wish.




A., P. (1993, Oct). Dietary lectins are metabolic signals for the gut and modulate immune and hormone functions. Eur j Clin Nutr. , 47(10), 691-9.

Dr. Qi Sun, M. S. (2010, Jun). White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Arch Intern Med., 961-969.

Vasconcelos IM, O. J. (2004, Sept). Antinutritional properties of plant lectins. Toxicon, 44(4), 385-403.



Arroz Con Pollo (dairy, egg, wheat free): A perfect post workout meal

When my oldest kiddo was just a small fry, he fell in love with this entrée from a local Mexican restaurant. In order to keep from having to visit this restaurant weekly and to keep from going broke (that place was expensive!), I worked on recreating that beloved dish at home.  I even managed to lighten it up.  The absolute best thing about this dish, well other than the fact my kids adore it, is that makes a ton. You can easily double the recipe and it saves beautifully.

This meal makes for an excellent post workout meal.  Think of your standard post workout chicken and rice just amplified in the taste department.  I am in the camp that you do not have to be slamming a chalky protein drink as you walk out of the gym. You can sit down and chew a real meal, as long as you eat with in 2 hours of working out and it contains a good source of carbs and protein.

Chicken and rice is a go to post work meal for many. After an intense workout our bodies  need to replace their fuel and work on rebuilding damaged tissues. The rice in this dish provides carbohydrates that help to replace muscle glycogen used up during intense exercise. And the chicken provides protein to aid in muscle synthesis. If your train for endurance (long runs anyone?) or have goal of increasing muscle mass this meal is even more important.

Plain chicken and rice can be a little bit boring in the taste department. This recipe fixes that for you.  It calls for saffron, which can be a pretty pricey, you can replace that with turmeric.

Depending on your feelings about rice you can either make this with white or brown rice. You just need to adjust for the cooking time.  If you are feeling confused about which rice is the healthier choice, keep your eyes peeled for a new article to drop next week discussing the pros and cons of both.

Post workout Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo can make for an excellent post workout meal or an anytime meal.

Arroz Con Pollo. (Dairy, Egg, and wheat free)


2 pounds bone in chicken, skin removed. (I like to use breasts, but legs would work too).

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 tsp olive oil, divided

½ large onion, chopped

2 med carrots, diced

½ red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tablespoon paprika

1 cup brown or white rice

2.5 cups of water

1/8 tsp saffron (or replace with turmeric)

1 cup peas, frozen


  • Remove chicken skin and pat dry. Season with ½ tsp salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or deep sided skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, carrots and red pepper and ½ tsp salt. Cook until softened, 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, paprika and rice. Stir and cook or about 2 minutes.
  • Add water, saffron, and ½ tsp salt. Return chicken to the pan, nestling it into the rice. Be sure to add any juices from the plate. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cook, covered until the chicken is cooked through, rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed. About 45-60 minutes for brown rice and 20-30 white rice.
  • Remove from heat and stir in peas. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

One serving is 1/6 the recipe. It provides: 309 calories, 34 grams carbohydrates, 31 grams protein and 6 grams fat.



My Experiment with Intermittent Fasting



This is my personal and very unscientific experiment with Intermittent Fasting.

Why did I choose to try intermittent fasting (IF)? I had a few clients ask about it and the only answers I could give were based off what I had read of other people’s experiences. Also, I wanted to see first-hand how intermittent fasting felt and worked.  I am insanely curious. I always want to know about different diets and their effects on the body.  What better way to learn about it then to try it on myself?

I had hoped to stay on the diet longer and be able to write up a more in-depth article detailing my experience with IF, including blood work and more body metrics. However, I had to throw in the towel just short of one month.  Keep reading to find out why I quit.

Intermittent Fasting (referred to as IF) is when you go a set amount of time, usually 24-16 hours, without eating or eating very little. There are multiple different versions of it.  I choose to follow a modified version of the 16:8 method (also called Lean Gains and Daily Fast) Normally, with this version you fast for 16 hours, and then have 8 hours to eat for the day.  I chose to modify it slightly. I fasted for 15 hours from 9pm till noon and had a 9 hour eating window from noon to 9pm.

First off, I think intermittent fasting can work extremely well for some people.  I just wasn’t one of them. I would hypothesize younger males and some women (particularly ones who have had not undergone a lot of crash diets and have stable hormones) would be better candidates for IF.  Also, Intermittent fasting is not for anyone who has a history with eating disorders or binge restrict eating cycles.

Intermittent Fasting isn’t just about skipping breakfast and getting ripped.  With this version, not only do you need to fast for a set amount of time, but it also takes into effect nutrient timing (what you eat around your work outs) and carb cycling (consuming higher carbs on workout days and lower amounts on rest days).

So, let’s get to it. My personal pros and cons of IF

IF work really well with my schedule.  I believe IF works best for people who find themselves very busy during their fasting window.  Basically, all I was giving up was my 1st 2 meals of the day.  Normally my 1st meal is eaten while chasing children around and arguing about the importance of putting on clean underwear. And my 2nd meal is usually eaten (or drank from a shaker bottle, and if you follow me on IG you know how much I despise drinking my food.) while sitting in the carpool lane.  Since my mornings are so busy, I never felt hungry or bothered by the fasting.  If anything, it freed up my mornings.(For the 1st time all year my kid was early to school!) If you have a desk job or are not busy during your fasting window, it would be a lot harder.

This version of IF utilizes carb cycling (and in turn calorie cycling). So, on the days I would work out I would eat higher amount of carbs and calories.  On my rest days I consume a lower amount of carbs and calories. With normal eating, I generally find the lower carb/calorie days to be challenging.  However, while doing IF, the low carb/calorie days were incredibly easy.   It was the high carb days that I found were a bigger struggle.

Since my workouts would fall in the mornings, while I was still fasting, I choose to drink branch chain amino acids (BCAA) right before and after my workout.  My day would look like this: I’d wake by 5 am. Consume only black coffee and water. Then at 8:30AM.  I would drink 5 grams of BCAA. Next I would train. Then, at 10:30 I would drink another 5 grams of BCAA. At noon I would break the fast with a huge (and I mean HUGE) meal.  I’d eat dinner at 6pm and a pre bed snack at 9.  Then I would begin the fast all over again.

I loved (and I mean LOVED) the fact I was eating larger meals while doing IF. I was able to eat two 600 calorie meals and one 300 calorie snack.  This was a large increase from the multiple 200-300 calorie meals I had been eating.  Eating such large meals, would leave me feeling satisfied after eating. When I am eating multiple smaller meals, I never really get to feel full.  At times, however I found it was really hard to get all my calories in (without resorting to calorically dense less nutritious foods, aka junk.)  Unfortunately, I did find myself eating more and more less nutritious junk foods.


While doing Intermittent Fasting I found it hard to resist the less nutrious junk foods.

It did make dining out easier, though. I could pretty much eat anything on the menu and still stay under my calories for the day.

Another huge positive (and the biggest one) is it took the head game out of eating.  What I mean is I didn’t have to think much about eating.  I didn’t have to worry about when I ate last or when will it be time to eat again. Since I was only eating a couple times, I also didn’t have to give much thought to how much I was eating either.  I also got to learn some important lessons around food. Like its ok to be hungry. Its ok to miss a meal. And I will not lose all the gains if I don’t eat directly after my workout. IF reminded me I could relax around food and eating.

Interestingly for me, the easiest part of the day was when I was fasting.  Things started getting tricky once I broke the fast. Once I started eating, I found it very hard to stop, particularly on my workout days.  I believe IF reignited some old restrict-binge tendencies from my younger years.  Within 2 weeks of following IF, I found I was unable to control myself around food. I started to notice the classic restrict-binge symptoms. I couldn’t stop eating, even when painfully full. I would experience an overly full and upset stomach. Then the guilt and shame would hit.  I would find myself having an intense feeing to “get back on plan” or “make up for my slip up”. This all would be followed by more binge and more guilt and shame.

My totally unscientific theory is that due to past relationship with eating (which prior to this experiment, I thought I had fully healed) and my personal hormones, intermittent fasting and I didn’t jive.  My 37-year-old metabolism just isn’t as adaptive and flexible as it had been in my 20s.  (Or maybe I stressed my metabolism out too much with horrible diets when I was in my 20s)

After 3 weeks of doing IF I:

  • Huge increase in my cravings. To the point of being uncontrollable.
  • Experienced binge- restrict cycle eating
  • Increase in my hunger (which would hit only after breaking the fast.)
  • Big decrease in my energy. My workouts started taking twice as long to get though. I was too exhausted to take my daily afternoon walk with my children and dog. And at one point towards the end, I was unable to even make my bed without having to take breaks and sit down.  My caffeine consumption also tripled while I was doing IF, it was the only way I could get through the day.
  • My libido disappeared.
  • I started experiencing night sweats.
  • Even though I was exhausted, I was unable to fall asleep at night and I would commonly wake up in the middle of the night.
  • I experienced heart palpitations, particularly at night when trying to fall asleep.
  • Holy mood swings! I would become insanely crabby, once I broke my fast for the day. And I mean CRABBY.
  • My body did not ovulate during the cycle that coincided with IF.

(Since stopping IF, all of the above issues disappeared within 2 weeks. Also my body ovulated, 3 weeks late, after having had resumed normal eating for 2 weeks)

Alone each of these signs could mean nothing, however I felt due to all of them at once it was a clear sign from my body that I should quit intermittent fasting. I could go into a lengthy discussion of the different hormone pathways in our body and how fasting may have affected mine.  But, I’ll save you the time and just says this: I suspect fasting suppressed my appetite regulatory hormones, raised my cortisol levels and caused my reproductive hormones to become unbalanced.  Of course this is all speculation, since I did not have any blood work done.


There are some things that are just more important.

I had come to the conclusion, that at this point in my life IF wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it to my body and my hormone health. Or to my family.  I wasn’t a great mother  while I was practicing IF. And let’s be honest, above all else these are the important things.  In the big picture of life, I would rather my kids remember me as a mom who played and was fun than a mom who was below 15% body fat but exhausted and crabby AF.  The final straw was when my dinosaur obsessed 5-year-old asked me to take him to the museum to look as the dinosaur bones and I shuddered.   Just the thought of taking my kids to the museum exhausted me. I had no idea how I could possible muster up the energy to do it.  Then I looked in his eyes and I knew.  I needed to quit IF.

I originally did IF with the hope to shed a little body fat.  Interestingly, I did not lose any body fat, but I did put in a wee bit of muscle and stored more water.  I started IF at 118.2 pounds, and an estimated 17.3% body fat.  When I quit I weighed 119.2 with an estimated body fat of 17% In full disclosure while I did attempt to log all my food as accurately has I could.  I suspect I may have under estimated my intake due to the binge style eating.  (It’s hard to know exactly how much peanut butter you are eating when standing in front of the fridge while spooning it straight from the jar.)

Now with all that said, I am actually considering doing IF again. If I do, I will make even more modifications though.  I plan to try a more cyclical version, where I will only fast a few days a week (on rest days or very light workout days) and would only fast for 12-14 hours. I also will test my hormones before and after (and during if need be).  Of course, if I feel my any of the symptoms I experienced this time I will quit immediately.  My thought is that with this more relaxed version of fasting will be easier on my hormones.

While IF wasn’t for me.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t for everyone.  There are a lot of people out there getting great results with IF.  I hypothesize that IF works better for

  • Men
  • Young adults
  • Those already fairly fit (women under 20% body fat and men under 15%).
  • Those without ANY binge-restrict eating history
  • Anyone who has never suffered from an eating disorder (or any form of disordered eating)
  • People whom are busy during during their fasting window
  • Women whose hormones are stable, and not perimenopause or postpartum.
  • And those who do not have a history of any extreme diets.

Even though I would call this IF experiment a fail I was able to learn and take away some positives.  I have been reminded I can be more laid back with my eating.  I can miss a meal and it will be ok. And that is ok to be hungry.

Bottom line: whenever you are trying out any new diet always listen to your body.  Not every diet it best for every person.  You have to find the one that works best for you and your body!





Is This Food a Carb, a Protein or a Fat?

How to tell what the major macronutrient of a food is.

Eat more carbs in the morning. Eat more protein. Eat less fat after a workout.  How many times have you heard dietary advice like that?  The problem is when you do not know which foods are high in carbs, protein or fat.

Knowing which macronutrient is the main constituent of a food is imperative when trying to follow dietary advice. (A macronutrient, also referred to as macro, is either fat, carbohydrate or protein)

You may think you know the answers, but what about foods like nuts, beans and even eggs?  Would you say they are a high protein food?  Here’s the thing, they are not.


Salty crunchy roasted garbanzo beans are a legume, but are the considered a high protein food?

The first step to figuring the main macronutrient of a food is to read the label. Or if it doesn’t have a label, look it up online. This is my favorite site here.  Whatever the highest macronutrient is your answer.   This tip will work majority of the time, but not all the time.  There are some foods that need to be considered “mixed”.

To better understand what I am talking about here is a very brief lessons carbohydrate, fat and protein. I’ll break down each one, tell what their serving size is and give an example of some common foods that fit into each category.


Every gram of fat provides 9 calories. Each molecule of fat is made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms, joined together in long chain.  There are 3 main different types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.  There is more information on fat in this article. One serving of a fat is generally 1-2 Tb or 1-2 thumb sized servings.

Typical Fat foods:
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Oils
  • Avocado
  • Olives

Each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. Carbs are made up of a carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecule.  Structurally there are 2 types, simple and complex.  Simple carbs are smaller, made up of only 1 or 2 sugar molecules.  Complex carbs are more than 2 sugar molecules.  While each type has a different effect on the body, ALL CARBS we eat are digested into simple sugars.  A typical serving size of carb food varies from one cupped hand (approximately ½ cup) to 2 fists (2 cups) depending on the person and the type of carb.

Typical carb foods
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Pastas/bread
  • Barley
  • Amaranth
  • corn
  • Starchy vegetables: yams, sweet potatoes, white potatoes
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Pancakes
  • Cereal
  • Crackers/pretzels
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit drinks/Soda

Protein is a molecule made up of amino acids. Think of amino acids as the building blocks for our body. There are 2 types of amino essential and nonessential.  Essential aminos our body cannot make and we must get them from the diet.  Nonessential aminos our body can make. To learn more about protein including how much you need go here.  Each gram of protein provides 4 calories (just like carbs).  A general serving size is 1-2 palm sized servings or 4-6 oz.

Typical protein foods:
  • Lean meats
  • Dairy products
  • Fish/shell fish
  • Deli meats
  • Egg whites
  • Powdered protein supplement (Read the label! A lot of these can contain A LOT of carbs and or fat)

But what about those nuts, beans and eggs?  Aren’t they good sources of protein?


Delicious and tasty almonds. Are they a good source of protein?

Awe Nuts.

Everyone wants to consider nuts a high protein food.  One ounce of mixed nuts contains 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein.  Nuts are a high fat food.  Yes, they do contain protein, but most of their calories come from fat. 77% of their calories come from fat.

Beans, beans…

You often hear that beans are a great source of protein.  1 cup of black beans contains 41 grams of carbohydrate and 15 grams of protein.  While they do contain protein, but they contain substantially more carbs then protein. With 72% of their calories come from carbs while 26% comes from fat. If you do not consume any animal products, then yes they are a decent source of protein.  If you do eat animal products (dairy, leans meats, etc.) then it is most beneficial to think of beans as a carb source.


Yes, yes. Eggs are still an excellent source of protein.  Keep in mind however, one large egg as 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.  That is 24 calories from protein and 45 calories from fat.  34% of their calories come from protein and 63% comes from fat. I find it best to think of them as a fat and protein food.  It will be hard to eat your needed amount of protein without over doing it on fat if you are consuming whole eggs.  It can help to cut your it with another lean protein source (either egg whites or a lean meat like turkey or ham).


Eggs.  Eggs are usually one of the holy grails of high protein foods, but over 63% of their calories come from fat.

Understand that not all foods will fit into these nice neat little boxes.  This whole article is an overgeneralization. There are a lot of foods (like eggs and higher fat meats) that need to be consider mixed macros.  However, classifying foods this way this is a great starting point. It can help you follow dietary advice.




Low Carb High Protein Make Ahead Lasagna Jars

These little lasagna jars are not only healthy and tasty but also incredibly easy to prepare. They make a great meal prep option.  They can be stored for months in the freezer or kept in the fridge for 3 days.  I personally like to keep a few in my freezer as an option for those days where things do not go as planned and I need a quick meal. Just knowing they are in there keeps me from ordering take out or going to a drive through.



Instead of noodles, this recipe uses zucchini.  I found slicing the zucchini thinly gave it the best texture. You can use a mandoline slicer or a shop knife.


While I used a jarred marinara (Amy’s brand) you could easily use homemade it you want.  Either way, make sure to pick a lower sodium and lower sugar option.

The most important aspect of this recipe is what you choose to store the lasagna in. If you plan to freeze these, make sure you use a freezable container. Also, it is helpful to use containers that are oven safe, that way they can go straight in the oven without dirtying another dish.   Wide mouth mason jars, Pyrex glass storage containers or Glasslock containers all work.  Just make sure you don’t put a frozen dish right in the hot oven, the abrupt temperature change can make the glass crack or shatter.




Makes 6 pint sized mason jar servings.

  • 1 lb extra lean (99% lean) ground turkey
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves, minced
  • 1 jar Marinara Pasta Sauce (look for a lower sodium and lower sugar variety, I like Amy’s brand)
  • 3 Tb egg white
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • ¾ cup part skim shredded mozzarella
  • chopped fresh basil


  1. Using a mandoline, thinly slice the zucchini. You can slice by hand, but the thinner the better.
  2. Spritz large skillet with cooking oil and sauté onion till translucent.
  3. Add ground turkey and brown.
  4. Add minced garlic, and cook for 1 min.
  5. Pour in marina sauce
  6. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine cottage cheese and egg white.

Assembling jars

  1. Line up 6 containers. And layer half the zucchini slices in the bottom of the jars.
  2. Next add cottage cheese mixture to each jar.
  3. Then add meat and sauce.
  4. Repeat with remaining cottage cheese and then sauce mixture.
  5. Top with half the zucchini slices.
  6. If you plan to cook them immediately, top with cheese, about 2 Tb per jar, and bake at 350 for 15 mins. Or until the mixture is bubbly and the cheese is melted.Otherwise store in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months.Top with cheese before cooking. (And I recommend defrosting before cooking if frozen.) You can bake for 20 minutes at 350. Or use the microwave (keep in mind the cheese won’t get all crispy and brown in microwave)
  7. Sprinkle with fresh basil and enjoy!

Nutrition for 1/6 the recipe:

Calories: 238 Fat: 8 grams Carbohydrates: 12 grams Protien:31 grams






Understanding Nutrient Claims on Food Labels

Ever fee confused by all the nutritional claims on labels? Yeah me too and I went to school for this! You feel like you need a cheat sheet just walking down the aisles of the grocery store. Low carb, reduced fat, no sugar, light sodium.  What does it all mean?


Below I go over a generalization of the different types of claims and what they mean. I will also tell you what you really should be paying attention to on food labels.

First off always remember the point of the label is to make you pick the item off the shelf. It is marketing. Its intent is not to help you eat healthier. It is to make a company money.

According to the US FDA there are 3 different type of nutrient claims on labels; health claims, nutrient content claims and structure/ function claims.

  • Health claims are when they claim a food affects a disease or health condition. For example: “Soluble fiber from oatmeal along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease”.
  • Nutrient content claims describes the content amount of a certain nutrient.  For example: “low sugar”, “fat free”, or “reduced calorie”.
  • Structure/function claims are the role a nutrient effects the body. For example, “Calcium builds strong bones.” And I will argue that there is a fourth category: Every other claim not covered under the FDA’s umbrella.

Here is my feeling on the claims on label: ignore them. Most of the time they are BS anyways.  Look at the label. See if it meets your needs.  Whenever possible choose whole foods.  It can help to know how much nutrients you personally need. (Everyone is different with different needs. It depends on your body, activity level, goals, age, lifestyle. And how often you like to eat.  Someone who eats 3 times a day will need to eat more per meal then someone who prefers 6. I wish I could tell you exactly what you need to eat, but without know more about you I can’t. And I don’t like just throwing blanket recommendations out there.)


This low-calorie low-sugar ice cream contains sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols still effect blood sugar and can cause GI upset.

If you are going to get the lower carb cookies, bread, whatever.  Compare it to the original. And ask yourself these questions:

  •  Is it even worth it? Will you feel satisfied after eating it?  Commonly after eating a lower, reduced version will still be craving the original and may even over eat later because we weren’t originally satisfied. Eating 4 servings of low fat ice cream is not better then eating just 1 serving of the full fat one!
  • How much calories/carbs are you actually saving? Is it even worth it? The “lower carb/fat” versions commonly have more calories.
  • How did they make it lower? It is now higher in another macro (commonly fat or sugar!)? When they take fat away they usually have to add sugar (or a sugar substitute in) and they remove sugar it is commonly replaced with fat. Did they add something to it in place of the lower nutrient? Like sugar alcohols in low carb, which can cause GI issues and still effect blood sugar levels.
  • What is the sodium content? When they remove fat or a carb, sometime to help with the lack of taste they will add in more sodium.
  • How much does it cost? Remember this is marketing. They want your money. Often the reduced version will cost more.

If you are ok with all those things? Well, then go for it.  Otherwise, set it back on the shelf and grab the original.

Below is a chart of what the US FDA has to say amount label claims.  These are just an example of SOME of the nutrient content claims you may see on labels.


Free, No, Zero, Without, Trivial source of, Negligible source of Low, Little, few contains small amount of, low source of Reduced, Less, Lower, fewer, modified Other
Calories Less than 5 cal per serving 40 cal or less for small serving,s 120 cal or less for meals. At least 25% less calories then original Light/Lite: must meet low calorie and low fat guidelines.
Total Fat Less than 5 g per serving 3 g or less and 30%or less of calories from fat 25% less fat “_% fat free” if food meets requirements for “low fat”. “100% fat free” must be “fat free”.
Saturated Fat Less than 0.5 g sat fat
Less than0 .5 g trans fat
Small servings: 1 g or less and 15% or less of calories come from sat. fat.
Meals: 1 g or less per 100 g food and less than 10% calories come from sat. fat.
25% less sat. fat then original reference food.
Cholesterol Less than 2 mg Small servings: 20 g or less. Meals 20 g or less per 100 g At least 25% less cholesterol
Sodium Less than 5 mg (this applies to salt free too) 140 mg or less for small servings and 140mg or less per 100 grams for meals. Very Low Sodium= 35 mg or less, 50 mg or less for meals 25% less sodium then original food. Light: if food is low calorie and low fat and sodium is reduced by 50% “Light in Sodium”: sodium is reduced by 50% “No salt added” and “unsalted”: may not be sodium free. Lightly salted” 50% less sodium then normally added, not “Low sodium”
Sugar Less than 0.5 g Not Defined At leaste 25% less sugar No added Sugar” and “without added sugar”: if no sugar or sugar added ingredient is added during processing.  Does not refer to sugar alcohols.


It doesn’t really help with the confusion does it?  Two things to take note of. One, notice Low sugar is not defined.  Meaning a there are no hard rules a manufacture must follow when labeling a food low sugar. Also, notice there is no rules for low carb? It’s like the wild west of food labels out there.  And you need to know what to look for and how to look past all the marketing.


This low-fat cottage cheese contains 440 mg of sodium in just 1/2 cup. That almost 1/5 the amount you should get in an entire day. 

What to look for when reading the label:

  • Ignore the health claims.
  • Check the serving size. Is that a serving size you would eat? Or would you eat more than that?
  • Look at the total calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and sodium.  Do they meet your particular needs?
  • When looking at the carbohydrates, make sure to look at the fiber amount vs sugar amount.  (more fiber, less sugar the better)
  • When looking at the fat content pay attention if there is any trans-fat.  Fat on a whole is not bad! If the product is high in fat, is it healthy fat (check out this article on Fat).
  • Don’t forget to look at the sodium content. 75% of our salt consumption comes from packaged foods, and not the salt shaker. Average healthy adult needs no more than 2,300 mg per day.

In the end, ignore the claims.  They are just marketing.  Read the ingredients and label, and see if the items fit your personal needs. If the item is reduced/lower/less in away way check that it does not contain more of something else, like fat, sugar or sodium, to make up for the missing taste.

If you do opt for the lower/reduced ice cream, you will not be saving yourself anything if you end up eating 3 servings instead of just 1 of the original full fat/sugar version.