New Service: Body Sleek Boutique

Body Sleek Boutique is the newest addition to the Next Level Fitness building. Angela Page, owner of Body Sleek Boutique has teamed up with Next Level Fitness and Wellness Center to open its doors behind the bootcamp area.

Endermologie, Body Sleek Boutique’s primary service, is an FDA approved and scientifically researched therapy that helps with the reduction in appearance of cellulite for both women and men. This treatment is highly effective, feels great, and is only 35 minutes long per session. Most people who try endermologie agree that they feel relaxed and fantastic afterwards, and it has the same therapeutic effects as massage therapy, with the added benefit of skin tightening. Anglea was an endermologie client herself for almost 2 years before she learned endermologie. After seeing its success on herself, she was inspired to help others with endermologie therapy, too.

Here is what Body Sleek Boutique offers:


  • FDA approved & scientifically researched
  • Reduces the appearance Cellulite
  • Smooths, Tones, and Tightens skin
  • Detoxifies & Reduces water retention
  • Eases Muscular Aches & Pain
  • Eases Joint Pain
  • Increases Circulation & Lymph Flow (helps with fat loss)
  • Good for Athletes-Shortens recovery time to enhance performance, flexibility, and endurance.

Clients of Next Level Fitness and Wellness Center receive special pricing depending on the package. Please see Angela at Body Sleek Boutique for more details.

Spa Contour Body Wrap with Infrared Heat (Coming Soon)

  • Helps removes toxins
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Improves skin texture

Retail Boutique (Coming Soon)

  • Organic, Vegan skin care line, Mineral Make-up
  • Skin Tightening Serums

Rhodiola: A Popular Dietary Supplement

Rhodiola is a type of plant that has become increasingly popular as a dietary supplement, used to naturally increase energy levels.

It’s been used as a folk remedy in many countries for centuries, and has in recent years become available for purchase almost anywhere that supplements, vitamins, and medication are sold.


Rhodiola is reputed to improve mood, decrease stress and fatigue, and improve physical and mental performance. It can help remedy insomnia and mild depression.

It’s also touted to help improve resistance to physical stress from environmental factors (such as cold or disease). Benefits improve with regular usage.


Because rhodiola is an “adaptogen”, rather than a chemical stimulant, the potency of its effects can vary from person to person.

Adaptogens function by regulating or “normalizing” metabolism and bodily functions, rather than directly stimulating the body through chemical means. Because of this, there’s no guarantee how much effect it will have on any given person.

Many people swear by its effects. Other people don’t see much benefit from using it.

The benefits of rhodiola are strongest in regards to its effects on stress, fatigue, and mood.

Its direct effects on physical stamina are somewhat debated–though it can certainly have indirect effects on physical stamina as a result of improving the users’s mood and sleep levels.

In any event, benefits are strongest if rhodiola is taken over an extended period of time (several weeks or more).  This gives it more time to affect the user’s metabolism and thus to maximize its beneficial effects.

Taking a single dose of rhodiola is not likely to have any significant immediate effect (contrary to, say, a large dose of caffeine) unless you are especially sensitive to it.

Since rhodiola isn’t a chemical stimulant, it doesn’t have the same kind of side effects (such as possible dependence or a post-dose “crash”) that a chemical stimulant would have.

It’s not 100% free from side effects, but it’s considered to be very safe.


Side effects are generally limited.  Adaptogens like rhodiola, are, by definition, safe for the average healthy person to be consume.

Since there’s no direct chemical stimulation involved, there’s virtually no chance of harmful reaction.

However, some users of rhodiola can become agitated, restless, or jittery, or suffer from insomnia; this is most common for people who consume large amounts (especially over long periods of time), but also can affect people who are new users of rhodiola, or people who are especially sensitive to it.

Rhodiola can also interact with some types of stimulants, anti-depressants or other adaptogenic supplements.  It’s best not to use rhodiola if you’re using medications or supplements of these natures.

Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are recommended to avoid rhodiola, as the effects of rhodiola on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is unknown.

Lastly, some people are allergic to rhodiola.  The symptoms of rhodiola allergy can include rash, hives, swelling, and in some cases, difficulty breathing.

Although rhodiola is safe for most people, make sure you take it in very small amounts until you are sure of what kind of effects it will have on you.

As always, if you have any kinds of health issues, ask a doctor before using any new type of supplement.


Rhodiola isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great way for many people to safely boost their energy levels and focus without side effects or “crashes” associated with caffeine.

The Skinny on Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have become a popular solution for many people looking to cut calories and sugar from their diets, without sacrificing the flavor of sweet foods and beverages they enjoy.

But there’s also a lot of suspicion about the health effects of consuming artificial sweeteners, especially over a long-term period.

What’s the truth?  Are these artificial sweeteners safe?


The most obvious benefit of artificial sweeteners is that they provide virtually no calories–unlike sugar or most natural sweeteners, which can provide a lot of calories, even in small amounts.

Although most artificial sweeteners do technically contain calories, the sweetness level of most is so high that only a tiny amount is necessary to sweeten food.

Also, since most artificial sweeteners don’t affect blood sugar levels, they are usually safe for diabetics to consume.  The main exception to this rule regards sugar alcohols, which can affect blood sugar levels, though not as much as “real” sugar.


Artificial sweeteners have been accused of contributing to possible increases in cancer or heart disease, depending on the brand/type of sweetener.

However, these products have been rigorously tested, and studies indicate that the risk of significant health issues to the average person is negligible; most health issues are limited to individual reactions to specific formulas of sweetener, and are usually minor.


Studies have indicated that consumption of artificial sweeteners can result in increased levels of appetite, and can specifically lead to increased desire for sweet foods.

The effects can vary from person to person or sweetener to sweetener.  Not all sweeteners will produce these effects on all people.


Not easily.  The FDA sets an “acceptable daily intake (ADI)” level for each type of sweetener.  This is how much the FDA recommends you consume each day.

You usually need to consume around 100 times the ADI level–and all at once–in order to risk any ill effects on your health.  This is very difficult to do, even intentionally.


Here’s an overview of some popular sweeteners on the market in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, Sugar Twin):

Saccharin is one of the oldest sweeteners in use, dating back to the 1800s, and is still one of the most popular.  Saccharin has virtually no calories and is safe for consumption by diabetics.

Saccharin can leave an aftertaste, especially in large amounts.

Saccharin was at one time linked to a possible risk of bladder cancer due to testing performed on rats.

However, the tests performed used levels of saccharin hundreds of times greater than what a human would consume; later tests on humans revealed that there was in fact no risk of bladder cancer in humans, due to the differences in the way human biology and rat biology process saccharin in large quantities.

Saccharin is generally agreed to be safe for consumption.  No other health risks are associated with saccharin consumption.

 Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet):

Aspartame was created in the 1960s, and is one of the more popular sweeteners on the market today.  It isn’t completely calorie-free, and doesn’t taste exactly the same as real sugar, but is very low-calorie and is safe for diabetics to consume.

However, aspartame is not safe for people with phenylketonuria to consume, as it contains an amino acid that can’t be metabolized properly by people with this condition.

Apart from the health risks for people with phenylketonuria, there are no other known, verified health risks associated with aspartame consumption.

Many accusations have been leveled against the safety of aspartame, but none of them have been proven, and aspartame is approved for use in over 90 countries.  Still, testing continues to be performed on aspartame, due to the amount of controversy surrounding it.

There have been accounts of aspartame causing relatively mild side effects in specific people, such as headaches or increased appetite.  These effects aren’t common enough to be of concern to the FDA, but are worth looking out for–if you experience these, try a different sweetener instead.

Sucralose (Splenda):

Sucralose has been in use since the 1990, making it one of the newest artificial sweeteners on the market.  It’s also one of the most powerful in terms of its sweetness.  It has virtually no calories and is safe for consumption by diabetics.

Due to the fact that sucralose has only been on the market a limited amount of time, no long-term studies on the effects of consumption have been performed; however, short-term studies indicate no particular health risks.

There have been suggestions that the chlorine in sucralose might be of concern, but testing hasn’t confirmed this to be cause for alarm.

Acesulfame Potassium/Acesulfame K (Sweet One, Sunett):

Acesulfame is a fairly new sweetener introduced in the late 1980s, and isn’t as well-known as other varieties.  It’s a little controversial because due to its young age, it hasn’t been as rigorously tested as some other sweeteners.

It also contains an ingredient which is suspected as potentially carcinogenic; ill effects from this ingredient haven’t been confirmed in studies, but many people call for additional testing before it can be considered safe.

Acesulfame is safe for consumption by diabetics.


Neotame is a variant of aspartame which is even sweeter.

Due to its chemical composition, it can be consumed safely by people with phenylketonuria.  It’s also safe for diabetics.

Like acesulfame, netotame hasn’t been on the market long enough to determine if there’s any significant risk of long-term effects.  Also, it can have some of the same short-term effects as aspartame, such as headaches.


Cyclamate is less powerful than most other artificial sweeteners, and is frequently combined with other sweetener types to enhance its effect.  It leaves less aftertaste than saccharin.  It is safe for consumption by diabetics.

Cyclamate is not available in the United States, though it is used in many other countries in the world.

The ban on cyclamate in the United States is due to studies on rats that produced similar results to the studies performed with saccharin.  However, like the studies performed with saccharin, the amount of cyclamate given to rats was hundreds of times higher than what a human would consume daily, and subsequent tests could not reproduce these results.  The FDA has since acknowledged that cyclamate poses no proven health risk to humans, but has not lifted the ban.  It seems likely that cyclamate will be legal for sale in the U.S. in the future, though exactly when is undetermined.

Elsewhere in the world, cyclamate is used in dozens of other countries (such as much of Europe) without restriction.

Sugar Alcohols:

Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that are similar in chemical structure to sugar and alcohol, but are different from either.  Sugar alcohols aren’t considered an “artificial” sweetener, but are instead considered a “sugar substitute”.

Sugar alcohols are generally not quite as sweet as regular sugar, but they also provide less calories than sugar.  They are often used in conjunction with other artificial sweeteners to improve their effectiveness.

Sugar alcohols are not completely safe for diabetics; their effects on blood sugar are less than the effects of real sugar, but consumption still needs to be limited.

Sugar alcohols aren’t completely absorbed by the body during digestion, which is why they provide fewer calories; however, as a result of this lack of absorption by the body, consumption of sugar alcohols can cause gastrointestinal discomfort (gas, bloating) or have a laxative effect.

This usually only occurs when consumed in fairly large quantities, though the amount required can vary from person to person.


Despite all the suspicion that gets thrown towards artificial sweeteners, pretty much all studies and research have indicated that they are safe–a viewpoint that is backed up by their consumption–and mass acceptance–by millions of people.

Even suspicions of ill effects due to long-term use of sweeteners is dubious.  Most artificial sweeteners have been on the market for several decades (in the case of saccharin, over 100 years!).

They’ve been consumed by millions of people over many years, without any notable negative effects.

The only possible exception is with relatively recent sweeteners such as sucralose, where their long-term effects over decades of use hasn’t been established; even then, studies indicate there is little to no risk of injury to health from long-term consumption.

So, unless you have phenylketonuria, and can’t consume aspartame, you really have nothing to worry about, unless you simply don’t like a certain kind of sweetener for one reason or another.


Your main concern is making sure that you maintain a healthy diet so you don’t offset the calories you save by consuming artificially sweetened food and drink!  You see, just because artificial sweeteners are calorie-free doesn’t mean that the food products that use them are calorie-free as well.

Many artificially sweetened food products still have a fairly high amount of calories–they just have less than naturally sweetened versions would have.

Also, make sure you don’t offset the benefits of low-calorie artificially sweetened foods by overeating foods that are high in calories.

Sure, maybe you can eat more of the stuff you like and still break even, but you won’t lose weight this way–and if you’re not careful, and take in more calories from “regular” food than you saved by eating artificially sweetened foods, you’ll still gain weight.

As mentioned before, some artificial sweeteners can produce a feeling of increased appetite in some people.  Be wary of this!

If you find yourself still feeling hungry after consuming foods or drinks made with artificial sweeteners, consider trying a different sweetener to see if the feelings of hunger go away.

Eating Too Much or Too Little: Serving Size

Here’s a true story that happened to me recently.  I was doing some grocery shopping and decided to treat myself to an individual pizza for “one”.

I found a nice-looking one in the freezer, and pulled it out to check its nutritional content.  Sure enough, the calories, sodium, and fat were all reasonable, so I tossed it into my basket and went on my way.

Of course, when I went to cook it for dinner the next day, I happened to note that the serving size was only 1/2 of the pizza–meaning that the whole pizza had double the calories, sodium, and fat than I originally thought it did!

Needless to say, I was displeased with myself for missing this detail.

What’s the moral of this story?  Be wary of the serving sizes on the package!

Nutrition information alone doesn’t tell you the whole story, and pictures of the food product can be misleading.

Make sure you are aware of the proper serving size for the food product so you have a proper idea of how much you’re supposed to eat!


The “serving size” is basically just a way to standardize how much nutrition you’ll get out of a food product.

Statements like “1 bar”, “1/2 pizza”, or “1 cup” make it easy for a person to know exactly how much they need to eat to get the nutrition listed on the label.

“Serving size” does NOT always correspond to how much food you’ll need to eat to become full.  Sometimes you’ll need to eat two or more servings of food to become full.  That’s natural.

And for other types of foods (for example, potato chips or any other “snack” food), you should never eat enough to become full off of that food alone!

Of course, if you eat more than the recommended serving size, then you’re going to get more nutrition (both good AND bad).

Make sure that you’re keeping your portion size in check if you’re trying to avoid extra calories!  Overeating is a sure-fire way to put on unwanted pounds!


Of course, not all food products are created equal.  If you’re following some sort of weight-loss (or weight-gain) program, then you’re likely to be sensitive about the amount of calories you take in.

This means you’ll probably be planning many of your meals ahead of time so you don’t steer off-course.

Use the serving sizes of your favorite foods to help plan full meals in advance.

If you know how many calories your main course is liable to provide in one “serving”, then you’ll know whether it’s safe to double-up on servings, or whether you need to prepare additional side dishes to round out the meal.


Let’s face it–most of us crave something unhealthy every once in a while.

If you must snack on something unhealthy, limit yourself to the serving size on the package, and no more.  Don’t graze on potato chips straight from the bag; instead, portion out an amount equal to the serving size and put the bag away.

This will let you get your snack fix in while minimizing the damage to your diet.


The serving size is a pretty simple concept, but one that’s easy to overlook.  But, don’t be careless, especially with foods that you haven’t had before!

Unfamiliarity (or nonchalance) with serving sizes is a quick way to lead to weight gain!

On the other hand, being familiar with the serving sizes of your favorite foods–and being proactive about your choices–can help you reach or stay at your target weight, and will help keep you healthy!

More Fast Food Strategies

We got a lot of great feedback on our first fast food strategies post, so we wanted to do a more in depth look at fast food strategies. If you like a post and want more on the same topic, SHARE it and leave a comment about what you liked about it.

Let’s face it–very little good ever comes from dining at a fast food restaurant, at least as far as your health is concerned.

You’re paying for convenience, not good nutrition.  With that said, don’t let your waistline pay the price.  Follow these strategies to help lessen the damage from trips to fast food joints.


Combo meals are great if all you care about is getting as much food as you can for the lowest price possible.

Of course, fast food tends to be loaded with calories, sodium, and fat–when it comes to these, “more” is rarely a good thing for your health.

Instead, simply order a couple of individual small items–say, a regular burger/sandwich and a small fry.  Skip the drink (we’ll explain more a bit later).  You’ll still get your fast-food fix, but can easily shave hundreds of calories off your meal this way!

  •  An average-sized combo meal (burger & medium fries) can easily set you back 1200 calories or more–and that’s even before the drink is included!
  •  By comparison, a regular cheeseburger and small fries frequently come in around 600 calories (or even less).

Not only can you save hundreds of calories this way, but you’ll frequently even save a couple bucks compared to buying a full meal!

  •  An average combo meal from a burger joint frequently exceeds $5 or more.
  •  By contrast, a regular burger and small fry usually comes in under $2.50 (or less!).


The soda you get with a combo meal doesn’t just drive the price of the meal up–it can also be a huge source of hidden calories in your diet.

  •  A medium drink can provide 200 calories or more–and that’s assuming you don’t go back for refills.
  •  A large soda can easily top 300 calories!
  •  A medium “juice” beverage (like Hi-C or Powerade) is a better alternative, at around 100 calories or so.

If you must have a soda, make it a diet–diet soda isn’t exactly healthy, but at least it has no calories.  Better yet, don’t get soda at all.  If you’re following our advice, and avoiding combo meals, then this means that any drinks you buy will be extra.

Consider this: most restaurants offer free water to patrons.  Water offers zero calories, so you can drink as much as you want without endangering your diet.

In fact, drinking a lot of water can be a great way to fill you up, preventing you from going back up to the counter for “seconds”.

Also consider that a small drink can cost over $1.50 or more at many locations–in fact, I was at a Burger King recently that was charging $1.89 for a small drink!  Do you want to spend almost $2 extra on a soda?


It’s customary for many restaurants to offer fries as a side dish.  But, a lot of restaurants have alternative options to fries.

For example, McDonald’s offers alternatives such as apple slices, side salads, and the Fruit & Yogurt Parfait.

KFC offers kernel corn & green beans.  Not all of these sides are low-calorie (the Fruit & Yogurt Parfait from McDonald’s, for example, has 160 calories), but almost all of them are a healthier alternative to french fries.

  •  If you’re buying a combo meal, many restaurants will let you substitute fries for a side of your choice, although you may have to pay the difference in cost.
  •  If you’re buying individual items (good for you!), then it’s even easier to pick healthy sides you enjoy.


Don’t think of chicken as being an automatic easy win for your diet.  When prepared correctly, chicken can be a great, healthier alternative to red meat like beef.

Of course, most fast food restaurants don’t serve healthy chicken–it’s processed, battered, and fried, and topped with calorie-rich sauces; by the time it’s done, it’s no better for you than beef (sometimes worse).

If you want to have fast-food chicken that’s as healthy as possible, look for grilled alternatives.  Most restaurants will have at least one or two grilled chicken items on the menu, but that’s usually it.

Other chains offer up many more options, such as:

  •  El Pollo Loco offers lots of chicken items that are reasonably low in calories and fat–but beware, as many items are still somewhat high in sodium.
  •  KFC also offers grilled items that are significantly healthier than the fried alternatives.  Just be careful when you pick a side dish.
  • Chipotle offers all natural chicken, beef, and carnitas (quick tip – ask for half of two kinds of meat to get a bit extra serving).


French fries are, not surprisingly, fairly high in sodium–but, there are a number of menu items that are much higher in sodium, and oftentimes they’re items that you wouldn’t expect to be!

  •  USDA recommendation for sodium intake is less than 2000 mg per day–preferably closer to 1500 per day.
  •  For example, a large french fry order from McDonald’s has 350 mg of sodium–a surprisingly low amount.
  •  By contrast, an Angus Chipotle BBQ Bacon Snack Wrap has 1060 mg of sodium–half to two-thirds your recommended daily amount!

Processed meats tend to be suprisingly high in sodium–not just to add flavor, but also as a result of the processing methods used to prepare and preserve the meat.

Try to limit how much processed meat you get in one meal.  Of course, don’t take that as permission to go nuts with the french fries–they’re still high in calories and fat!


It’s actually becoming more and more common for fast food chains to post calorie content information on their in-store menus.

This alone can sometimes be a great deterrent against ordering something needlessly big–it’s hard not to feel guilty about ordering a giant cheeseburger when you can plainly see that it will cost you over half your calories for the day.

More complete nutrition information is sometimes posted near the ordering area; or, you can ask the cashier if they can give out pamphlets offering this information.

Not all chains will do this, but many of them will upon request.

Additionally, virtually every chain also makes complete nutrition information available on their websites–information such as fat content, sodium, and more.

Don’t be afraid to spend a few minutes doing research on the best options to select from your favorite restaurant before you place your order–it will save you a lot of time in the future trying to work off the extra pounds you’d build up by making poor decisions at the counter!

How Much Protein is Right For You?

It’s common knowledge that protein is one of the more essential nutrients you need.

It’s used by the body to create and/or repair almost all kinds of tissue. It’s especially valuable for people who are attempting to build muscle.

But how much do you really need?


Let’s say you’re not an unusually active person.

Maybe you exercise periodically; maybe you don’t. How much protein does the average adult need? Well, as a general guideline, the USDA and CDC recommend the average adult woman consumes 46 grams of protein per day, and the average adult male consumes 56 grams of protein each day.

However, this is just a conservative guideline. More specifically, they recommend about 0.4 grams of protein for every pound of body weight–so, if you weigh 175 pounds, you’ll need about 70 grams of protein.

Luckily, consuming your daily allotment of protein is pretty easy, if you eat the right foods once or twice a day.

NOTE: Beware of the serving size on food labels.


Here’s how much protein you can get from some common high-protein food items. Note that all values are an approximate range, and can vary depending on portion size and preparation method.

  • Beans (Pinto, Navy, Kidney): 15 grams
  • Beans (Soy): 15 – 20 grams
  • Beans (White): 20 grams
  • Beef Patty (Hamburger): 22 – 28 grams
  • Beef Steak (Sirloin): 25 – 40 grams
  • Chicken (breast): 25 – 30 grams
  • Chicken (other): 12 – 20 grams
  • Fish (fillet): 15 – 30 grams
  • Mushrooms: 3 grams
  • Nuts (Pistachio): 6 grams
  • Nuts (Cashews): 4 – 5 grams
  • Nuts (Peanuts): 8 – 10 grams
  • Protein Supplement (Whey): 20 – 25 grams
  • Pork (loin): 25 – 30 grams
  • Pork (ham): 19 – 25 grams

As you can see, getting all the protein you need each day can require only 2 servings of food, if you choose correctly. You don’t even need to eat lots of meat!

Even vegetarians and vegans can get large amounts of protein from eating the right kinds of beans and nuts!


Now, let’s say that you ARE an active person. Maybe you run a lot. Maybe you lift weights constantly. Should you be consuming more protein than the USDA recommends? Yes, you should, but how much depends on your lifestyle and situation.

Generally speaking, conventional wisdom from athletes and bodybuilders is that you should eat about 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight–so, if you weigh 175 pounds, eat 175 grams of protein each day.

You’ll probably need to eat more meals (maybe 4 to 6 a day) to hit this goal, or use supplements in between meals. However, this generally assumes that you train with high intensity, and that you’re specifically looking to build lots of muscle.

For the most part, the average physically-active person won’t see much benefit (if any) from eating more than 30 grams of protein per meal, or more than about 100 – 150 grams per day.

Any more than this is probably wasteful (not to mention potentially expensive), but isn’t likely to harm you.

Supplements (like powders, shakes, and bars) are a good way to help meet your protein requirements, as they tend to be more protein-dense than other food sources, meaning that you don’t need to consume as much of them to get large amounts of protein.

Also, they tend to be convenient–a bar or a shake is much easier to prepare or transport than many “regular” types of food. However, not all supplements are well-rounded sources of nutrition, so be wary if you’re looking for something to use as a meal-replacement product–replacing the occasional meal with a bar or shake is OK, but you can’t live off supplements alone without consequences.

If you want to know what’s better, a protein bar or a protein shake, then read our comparison article here.

And, again, if you aren’t physically active, you don’t need to eat as much protein! Stick with the USDA’s recommendations.


Opinions on “too much protein” are highly varied.

Not everyone can agree on whether you CAN eat too much protein or not, let alone agree on how much “too much” actually IS. Generally speaking, lots of protein alone won’t harm you, even if your body doesn’t really need it.

Still, high-protein diets can sometimes result in side effects–not from the protein itself, but from ignoring other dietary or lifestyle factors that can lead to ill health.

  • Lots of high-protein sources are also high in calories and fat. Eating too much without working it off can result in weight gain. (Too much protein by itself will usually just pass through your digestive system, though, and won’t result in extra weight gain).
  • People who eat nothing but protein sometimes neglect other vital nutrients, like fiber. Don’t ignore the other food groups!
  • Too much protein is speculated to lead to kidney issues or loss of bone density, due to the fact that the body spends calcium when protein is broken down and absorbed. There’s a lot of conflict of opinion on this, though. Consider increasing your calcium intake a bit to counteract this.


  • If you aren’t especially active, consume around 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily.
  • If you’re highly active, consume up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
  • Don’t neglect a well-balanced diet just to increase your protein intake!

Are You Getting Enough Fluids Daily?

It’s not a surprise that the average American doesn’t drink enough water each day.

With such a wide array of conveniently available flavored beverages to choose from–fruit juices, coffee drinks, sodas, and many more–many people just don’t make room for their daily allotment of water, because they’ve already drank their fill of other things.

And some people (like me) just flat-out don’t like the taste of it. But getting your daily ration of water is very important to overall health and well-being. Not drinking enough water can put your health at risk!


  • it helps keep your appetite in check
  • keeps your metabolism and circulation active
  • keeps energy levels up
  • helps flush toxins out of your system
  • keeps muscles supple and mucous membranes moist
  • helps prevent feelings of weakness/soreness, or headaches

Drinking your daily quota–and staying healthy in the process–is easier than you may think!


A popular rule of thumb is to drink an 8-ounce glass of water 8 times a day–adding up to about 2 liters. And, this is pretty close to what the average adult needs. But, studies indicate the actual number is somewhat higher–about 10 glasses of water a day for a woman (around 2.2 liters or so), and 12 or more for a man (approximately 3 liters!).

Try to drink no less than 8 glasses of water a day, but aim higher if you can.

Of course, if you’re physically active, you’ll need to drink more than this in order to make up for the fluids you’ll lose from sweat and activity, as well as to help circulate your recovery nutrition to your spent muscles and tissue.

Depending on your level of physical activity, you’ll want to increase your fluid intake by at least 50% to 75%–possibly more.

Also, don’t be afraid to adjust your fluid intake based off other lifestyle and environmental factors, too! If you live in a hot environment, then you’ll need more fluids, even if you don’t exercise much.


Of course, the best way to get your water is by drinking actual water, as opposed to other types of beverages.

Most beverages are composed primarily of water, but also tend to have a lot of extra ingredients–and calories–that may not be beneficial to your long-term health. (In fact, many people get as much as 400-500 calories each day just from drinks from the artificial sweeteners.)

So really, drinking actual water is the best way to go. Of course, that can be boring or unpleasant for some people. Luckily, there’s a lot of options to help you reach your quota:

  • If you don’t like the taste of tap, but like the taste of bottled/spring water, try buying a water filter device (like a Brita). You’ll save a lot of money versus buying bottled water!
  • Add a twist of lemon or some other citrus to make your water more palatable.
  • You can also use artificially sweetened packets to flavor your water. The jury’s still out on the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on the human body, but most research indicates it’s safe to use in moderation. A single packet can flavor up to 20 ounces or more of water, so you don’t need to use too much.
  • Fruit juices have lots of water as well as other nutrients, but also tend to have lots of calories and sugar.
  • Milk also has a large amount of water, but tends to have a fair amount of calories and fat as well. Plus, some people don’t digest it very well.
  • Soda has water too, but very little nutritional value, and lots of calories and sugar. Don’t be afraid of a little soda here and there, but I would recommend NOT counting soda towards your daily fluids, just because you probably ought to drink a little extra water to help flush the processed ingredients out of your system more efficiently.
  • Sports drinks contain lots of water, as well as calories, sodium, and sugar–nutrients that are useful for people who are physically active, but can also contribute to weight gain if you’re not careful.
  • Most food contains at least a little bit of water–fruits and vegetables contain a lot. You can’t get your daily fill of water from food alone, but it can help contribute.


Sort of. Water, by itself, doesn’t magically burn weight.

However, it also has no calories; if you replace beverages such as soda, coffee, or even fruit juice with water, then you’ll reduce your caloric intake by a couple hundred calories a day–remember that 3,500 calories equals 1 pound. You can lose a couple pounds a month just by drinking water more often and cutting back on other types of drinks!

Also, water helps keep your appetite in check, which can prevent you from eating more than you need. Sometimes, feelings of hunger can feel similar to feelings of thirst or dehydration; if you think you need a snack, try chugging some water instead. It’s possible that you’re just thirsty. And, even if you’re not, water can help keep you feeling full until it’s time for a proper meal.

Pre and Post Workout Meals

Do you ever get nauseous during a workout? Do you ever get light-headed in the middle of performing an exercise? Ever feel the need to take a heavy-duty nap right after you workout?

The problem might be simple—you aren’t giving your body enough fuel to last the duration of your workout session.

Luckily, the solution is simple—eat something! Eat something before you work out, and eat something afterwards. Get your body properly fueled up prior to exercise, and refuel it again after! It’s simpler than you may think, and almost always beneficial.

There are many different solutions to cater to people of differing appetites, constitutions, and time constraints.

Pre-workout meals

Kevin always tells his rookies to eat something before they come in and work out.

They usually ask, “What should I eat, and how long before my workout should I eat something?” Kevin generally replies; “Eat a sandwich as you’re walking through the gym door! I don’t really care what you eat, just be eating as you come in.”

For me, on the other hand, eating immediately prior to a workout tends to make me feel sluggish and heavy. This affects a lot of people, actually; eating too much food prior to a workout can induce feelings of fatigue or even nausea.

What’s the solution? Oftentimes, you just need to eat something lighter. You don’t need to eat a full meal immediately before you work out. You just need enough sustenance to last through the hour or two you are going to be exercising.

Some suggestions which fit the bill for a pre-workout snack include:

  • A meal replacement shake (like Muscle Milk), or a protein shake – You get a moderate amount of energy-providing calories from a shake like this, and it digests quickly, allowing your body to use the energy almost immediately. Many meal-replacement shakes are fortified with additional vitamins and nutrients.
  • A meal replacement bar or protein bar – Similar to the shakes above, but usually with even more nutrient supplementation. I find that a bar is often better at satisfying hunger than a liquid, and tends to settle easier during a workout.
  • Kevin’s favorite: the peanut-butter and jelly sandwich – You get protein, carbs, and some sugar—all good stuff to put into your system prior to a workout. It’s also easy to make with inexpensive ingredients, and can be prepared ahead of time and taken with you.

If you want to know what we recommend, check out our article comparing protein bars VS protein shakes.

On the other hand, here are some things to typically avoid:

  • Fruit – You’re not getting enough energy out of fruit to make it a good choice for workout fuel. You’ll burn through it in the first few minutes (and, if you’re like me, run the risk of your body trying to pass it out of your digestive system at an inconvenient time).
  • Yogurt – Like fruit, you don’t get many calories out of yogurt—making it effective as a snack to ward off appetite, but it won’t last you long as exercise fuel. The simple sugars also don’t provide too much energy.
  • Fast Food – Unsurprisingly, fast food is not a good option for a pre-workout meal. The high-calorie count and large amounts of carbs and protein might seem like a viable energy source, but the high fat content makes this food very heavy; it can take a while to digest, and cause some amount of gastrointestinal discomfort in the process.

How soon you should eat before a workout depends somewhat on what you are eating. If you have eaten a full meal, the general consensus is that you should probably wait at least an hour or two before you work out, so that your meal has had some time to digest—that way, your body will have access to the energy it’s provided, and you won’t have too much in your stomach weighing you down.

On the other hand, if you’re specifically having a pre-workout snack, eat it as soon as possible before you workout—a snack won’t take as long to digest as a full meal, and you’ll have access to the energy it provides sooner.

Post-workout meals

Hopefully, the reasoning behind a post-workout meal is obvious. You’ve just exerted a lot of energy—possibly more energy than your pre-workout meals provided—and your muscles are depleted.

You need to refuel and help speed up the repairing of your muscles.

The options on what to eat at this point are somewhat broader than the suggestions for a pre-workout meal—you can eat something heavy if you like, since you don’t have to worry about it weighing you down.

But, whatever you pick, try to find a good balance between protein and carbs to provide an optimal recovery.

Protein, as many people know, is a fundamental building block for muscle tissue; it’s very common in nutritional supplements for that reason. The more aggressively you are doing resistance/strength training, the more protein you will need. Read our guide to know how much protein is right for you.

Carbs are useful because they quickly metabolize into glucose (basically, sugar); glucose is used by your body as a general-purpose energy source, but can also be used to accelerate the absorption rate of protein.

As sugar enters your bloodstream, insulin is produced to move the sugar to your tissues for storage; the insulin will also pick up the protein as well, shuffling it off for usage more quickly than it would be used otherwise.

As such, you want to try to mix your carbs with protein in order to boost the speed of protein absorption. You don’t want to go overboard on carbs, of course, since excess carbs will basically just become sugar that your body will have to deal with.

But finding a good balance of carbs and protein will speed up your recovery and help you be ready for your next workout.

Some suggestions for post-workout meals include:

  • A whey protein shake (whey protein isolate) with Splenda: Splenda will help trigger an insulin response that will increase the absorption rate of protein, without the need for additional “real” sugar. This will get protein to your muscles very quickly!
  • Frozen Yogurt: The simple sugars aren’t effective at providing workout fuel, but do provide a good mechanism for helping speed the absorption rate of protein. Pair this with another high-protein snack for good results!

Downright Awesome Vegetarian Options

This is my list of great vegetarian recipes for simple weight loss plans.

Dieting is not easy for most people so let’s make this diet easy for you. Choose one recipe from each of the Meal Categories (ie: Breakfast, snacks, lunches and dinners) and implement it into your meal plan.

You should have 5-6 meals per day. Make sure that you’re able to fit these recipes into your daily caloric needs.


The Late Start Oatmeal Mashup

  • 1/2 Cup of Oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chopped pecans or slivered almonds (All Natural Almond Accents, Butter Toffee Glazed)
  • 1 packet of splenda

Mix all the dry ingredients, without the almonds. Add up to a 1/2 cup of hot water to this dry concoction and let cook. Top with the almonds and you’re all set to go. Serves up in a minute!

As an added bonus, if you’re the type to always be on-the-go, you can prepare the dry ingredients in advance and store in zip-lock baggies. Take this where ever you go. Great as a snack!

The Quick Protein Fix Oatmeal Mashup

  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder

Mix the ingredients thoroughly and add hot water. You may not want to microwave the concoction because that’ll denature the protein. Serves up in seconds. You can even prepare the dry ingredients just like the mix above.

Popeye’s Protein Omelet

Serves 1 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 186 | Total Fat: 12.3g | Cholesterol: 430mg

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup torn baby spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, beat the eggs, and stir in the baby spinach and Parmesan cheese. Season with onion powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

In a small skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat, cook the egg mixture about 3 minutes, until partially set. Flip with a spatula, and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes, or to desired doneness.


Herbed Cottage Cheese

Serves 8 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 83 | Total Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg

  • 2 cups 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Serve immediately.

With this jazzed-up version of light cottage cheese, I don’t miss the fat at all. Serve it with canned tuna and a few crackers for a great light lunch.

Cottage Cheese Salad

Serves 4 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 138 | Total Fat: 5.2g | Cholesterol: 17mg

  • 1 (16 ounce) container cottage cheese, drained
  • 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, tomatoes, green onions, and cucumbers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until serving.


Insanely Easy Vegetarian Chili

Serves 4 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 155 | Total Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 0mg

  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
  • 1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, and garlic until tender. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery, and chili powder. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.

Stir in mushrooms, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn. Season with cumin, oregano, and basil. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ginger Cabbage Salad

Serves 6 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 161 | Total Fat: 6.2g | Cholesterol: 0mg

  • 3/4 cup pickled ginger
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage, green or red
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweetened Asian wine)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 scallions, sliced

Combine all of the ingredients. Thats it.

Mama’s Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Serves 4 | Amount Per Serving Calories: 163 | Total Fat: 7.7g | Cholesterol: 0mg

  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1 roma (plum) tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced

In a bowl, toss together the garbanzo beans, roma tomato, green bell pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Cover, and chill until serving.

Top 10 Protein-Packed Foods to Punch Out the Pudge!

High protein diets are ever-so-popular in our culture.

It’s not just a trend, however. Eating foods high in lean proteins and low in carbohydrates has been proven to help dieters to lose weight and shed body fat.

However, not all protein sources will give you the best results.

This is is a list I’ve compiled of the most ideal protein sources for the best weight-loss results.


Here are my top ten most effective, protein-packed food choices for losing weight and shedding body fat. I know I may have omitted a few items here and there, but feel free to comment on the choices!


Quinoa is a very special source of protein-packed goodies.

It is a source of balanced essential amino acids to humans therefore it is considered a complete protein like chicken, fish and beef!

Extremely popular to people with special nutritional needs like vegans and vegetarians.


You’ll find a lot of brands that will offer whey protein blends in the stores nowadays!


For you beef-lovers out there, this protein-packed food is high in protein and low in sodium.

It’s also a good source of Phosphorus and Zinc, and a very good source of vitamin B12 and Selenium.

There is, however, the issue that it’s very high in cholesterol so be careful not to consume too much beef.


Chicken breast is a very popular protein-packed food.

There are countless ways to prepare it and an infinite amount of recipes you can make with this bird! Just make sure that you get rid of the skin, fat, and bone and you’re good to go.


Believe it or not, turkey breasts are actually considered to be a much healthier source of protein than chicken breasts because it has fewer calories and fat per ounce.

However, it also has fewer grams of protein per ounce than chicken.


If you’re looking for a quick and easy source of protein without all the fat, then look no further.

Egg whites, whether beaten, hardboiled, in an omelette, or mixed in smoothies, are a great source of protein no matter the time of the day.

Egg whites are no longer just for breakfast!


Greek Yogurt has been very popular over the last few years with dieters because of its high-protein content.

Mix non-fat greek yogurt with fruit and you’re good to go, anytime, anywhere.


Long before the Greek Yogurt craze, there was non-fat cottage cheese.

This power-packed protein source was and still is a common-ground for protein lovers.

Whether vegetarian or steak/chicken lover, cottage cheese is popular for it’s versatility and flavor.


Fish is a low-fat high quality protein filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin).

This source of protein also is rich in calcium, phosphorus and other useful minerals!


It’s the leanest of the lean.

What’s really great about this protein source is that it’s convenient, versatile, and highly inexpensive per serving.

Whey protein isolates come in many variety of flavors depending on the brands you buy.


Soy-based proteins like tofu – There’s been a lot of contraversy over soy and soy-based products but no one will deny that this source of protein is generally healthy for anyone who is health conscious.

Protein bars – Convenient and delicious! Protein bars are definitely for you if you are the “on-the-go” type. My only gripe about protein bars is that they generally come with a lot of sugar.

Almonds, Walnuts, and other nuts – The most basic protein-packed food you can find anywhere, anytime. However, these still come with a lot of fat and extra calories so this little contender doesn’t quite compete with the top 10.


Dieting for weight loss is more than just eating foods rich in protein and low in carbohydrates.

There’s so much more to consider when planning a successful nutritional plan. You have to consider whether your “diet” is going to be realistic and managable.

Is it something you can maintain for the next 12 weeks? Is it going to fit in with my lifestyle choices? Am I getting enough calories to be able to perform my best?

As with anything else that pertains to your new health and lifestyle choices, you should always consult with your personal trainer or physician prior to starting any kind of program.