I don’t know about you, but whenever I go on any sort of healthy diet, I tend to still have cravings. They do dissipate over time, but even when they are gone I still enjoy treating myself with something sweet. … Continue reading
Sometimes the hardest part of sticking to a diet or exercise regime is finding the time to cook meals, especially meals that will provide you with all of the essential nutrients to build and repair muscle. It is really easy to fall off the wagon because of cravings, or lack of preparation. Another huge issue that arises with a bodybuilding diet is monotony, food tends to taste boring, and protein shakes can become really boring when you are drinking them every day. If you are like me, you get really bored with protein shakes fast. At first, I will get a new protein and absolutely love it, and over time it becomes the enemy because I get so bored of it. It becomes really hard to motivate yourself to drink something that you can’t stand, so you turn to a chocolate bar, pizza, or some other craving. This is why it is extremely important to have meal replacement options, because there will be days that you can’t motivate yourself to cook, or drink a protein shake, and it is that moment when you need to be prepared so that you can prevent senseless cheating. My tried and true meal replacement favorite is Muscle Milk by Cytosport. I never get bored it this, I can drink it every day, and I still enjoy it. It is also filling, unlike a lot of protein shakes, and has a great macro nutrient ratio. Get your hands on some Muscle Milk!
What is Muscle Milk?
Muscle Milk is a fabulous meal replacement option, meaning that it can be taken in place of food. This can be a life saver if you don’t have the time, energy, or cash to prepare 6 solid meals a day. Muscle Milk contains a blend of proteins (Calcium Sodium Caseinate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Whey Protein Concentrate), which are obviously key to building and repairing muscle. Since Muscle Milk contains a protein blend, you get the best of all world–slow and fast digesting proteins. Fast digesting proteins, like isolates, are soluble and enter the blood stream quickly. What this means for you is that the protein contributes to greater growth and recovery due to protein synthesis. Slow digesting proteins, like casein, keep you fuller longer. This protein is perfect for meal replacement, as it is designed for periods where you cannot refuel quickly. Casein is also very high in amino acids, which help to speed muscle repair, promote muscle growth, and limit muscle breakdown.
In addition to protein, Muscle Milk includes fast-burning fats that help provide the caloric energy needed to fuel exercise and recovery. It also includes Omega 3, 6, and 9 fats, which are critically important for a healthy diet. Also, Muscle Milk is loaded with Glutamine (to rebuild muscle, serious key to bodybuilding) and other essential vitamins. It is pretty much the perfect go-to meal replacement shake. Check out the macros:
Why Should I Take Muscle Milk?
Well, 6073 members of Bodybuilding.com can’t be wrong, and that is how many people have added Muscle Milk to their list of supplements on bodyspace. Muscle Milk keeps you full, provides you with essential nutrients, and tastes great. Also, it is lactose free, so it is the perfect meal replacement for those with lactose sensitivity. It contains no milk, despite the title, but it does contain a plethora of other awesome ingredients to help you build and maintain an awesome figure.
What Makes Muscle Milk Special?
The reason I continue to purchase Muscle Milk is the flavor, it tastes great and I haven’t gotten sick of it, which is saying a lot. I even bought a 5lb tub, which shows how serious I am about my love for Muscle Milk. I leave my Muscle Milk at work, because it is a simple and convenient meal to eat when you are in a rush. I particularly enjoy the Chocolate flavor. It is smooth, and mixes well. I also have the Chocolate Malt flavor, which is very similar to the Chocolate, I would suggest either flavor. I am yet to try some of the more exotic flavors, but I have my eye on the Red Velvet Cake and Raspberry Cheesecake.
If you are cutting down on carbs, I find that mixing one scoop of Muscle Milk with one scoop of Whey Protein Isolate of the same flavor is a very effective way to maintain the Muscle Milk flavor and texture, without the high amount of carbs. I take two scoops at a time for one serving, because I try to ensure that I am taking 30g of protein per meal. In two scoops Muscle Milk gives you 32g protein, 18g carbs, 12g fat. This is a very good ratio, especially for a meal replacement. It is also very low in sugar, with only 2g per scoop!
Where to Buy Muscle Milk?
Muscle Milk is a fairly standard product. I have bought it numerous times on bodybuilding.com. A 5lb tub is currently going for $48.98 Canadian, which means one meal will cost you around $1.50 if you take two scoops. Pretty decent. You can also find Muscle Milk at Popeye’s and other health food and supplement stores.
Don’t give yourself the excuse to cheat, make sure you always have a meal replacement with you!
I recently discovered Quest Bars after reading all about how incredible they are, and I certainly agree with all of those rave reviews. My favorites are White Chocolate Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, in that order. They are to die for, especially warmed in the microwave. They are a dieters dream come true. Nothing is perfect, but they beat every other protein bar out of the water.
Needless to say I am in love with them. They are a little bit pricey, but that is to be expected with supplements. Bodybuilding can be an expensive hobby and I have no quarrel with that, but I do enjoy cooking and baking myself, so when I found a DIY Quest Bar recipe I had to try it. My verdict on them is positive, but they are not the same, which is to be expected. They are much better than most protein recipes I have found, though, and they are definitely better than the protein muffins I have been living off of, but I will eventually quit using the honey and try them with sugar free syrup once I have to start cutting a few more calories. I do suggest giving these a try though. Make them your own masterpiece.
Here is how I made them:
Gathered in the image above is everything you need to make your own variation of the popular Quest Bar. I made two different kinds of bars to keep it interesting. These are a perfect ‘meal 2,’ and I am eating them every day around 12 pm with a glass of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey in Chocolate Coconut. There is no better way to indulge in protein. To make these protein bars, you will first need a protein powder. For the chocolate, I chose Myofusion Probiotic, which is the best protein for baking that I have ever found. For the Cinnamon, I chose ISO Sensation Vanilla, which is my favorite protein to date. I made my own peanut butter in my amazing food processor, simply by throwing in a container of peanuts, pressing the on button and waiting five minutes. It’s fail proof, and perfect in every way. I did the same thing with oats to make the oat flour. Lastly, grab a sweetener, like honey, and additives: for the chocolate recipe you need cocoa powder, and for cinnamon you need cinnamon, obviously 🙂
The recipe is pretty simple, you mix all ingredients together. The chocolate bowl is on the left, and cinnamon bowl is on the right. Here are the ingredients:
Ingredients ~for the basic dough~ (makes 5 Bars):
4 Scoops Protein Powder
1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter (If you don’t like peanut butter, you can use sun butter, cashew butter, or almond butter, anything will work!)
1/2 cup of honey, agave nectar, or stevia (If you choose to use stevia, you will need more water)
1/4 cup Oat Flour (or fiber powder or ground flax seed)
*A few Tbsp of Water (depending on what sweetener you use, you will need more or less water)
Depending on the flavor, you will need to add a few extra ingredients to your dough.
~Cinnamon Roll Quest Bar: add 1/2 Tbsp of cinnamon to your dough
~Chocolate Brownie Quest Bar: add 1-2 Tbsp of cocoa powder to your dough
~Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Bar: add 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to your dough
The original recipe calls for a lot of organic ingredients, which I simply do not buy or care for, so I used what I had, which is equally healthy and saves you money at the same time: WIN.
I mixed up all of my ingredients, sans water, and added the water in the end, since the recipe did not specify how many tablespoons of water were needed. I used three tablespoons of water, which made the bars so sticky that they stuck to my hands, and the pan, and made a huge mess. Next time, I will use less. Lesson learned.
Mix your ingredients together, kneed them into a ball that is one consistency. Place ball on a plate of cookie pan.
Since my bars were so sticky, I covered them with plastic wrap before rolling them out, to prevent another huge mess with my rolling pin. This worked great, and served as a cover for them. Once they are flat, the recipe says to put them in the fridge. They do not require any baking, which is great! Leave them in the fridge for half an hour, or overnight, and cut them into bars whenever you want them.
I left them overnight, and cut them in the morning before work. They were still a bit sticky, so I will be leaving them in the fridge until I want them.
They are actually really good. The big difference between these and regular protein muffins, brownies, cakes, etc. is that they are sticky, and use much less flour. Since they are not baked, they don’t expand, and remain flat and dense like Quest Bars. I love them, they provide variety to what can be a very basic bodybuilding diet. Since they are so high in calories because of the honey, you can sub in another sweetener. I have not tried this yet, but I certainly will. I also find them a lot easier to eat than most of the other protein desert concoctions I usually make, which may be attributed to the honey. These will definitely be a huge part of my diet for the next few months, and I suggest giving them a try. They break up the monotony in the diet and give you something to look forward to, and since they are so sweet, they are great for people who work in offices, like myself, since they keep me away from the vending machine, which is always a huge plus 🙂 Enjoy!
I did a quick calculation of the nutrition info, and the macros are below. This is for the chocolate version with cocoa powder, honey, creamy peanut butter, and myofusion protein!
You know you have a problem with fitness obsession when you legitimately mourn the loss of your favorite protein shaker bottle. One would think that all protein shaker bottles are created equal, but that could not be further from the truth. This is meant to be funny, but for real, I am sad.
So yesterday, I used my favorite protein bottle for my pre-workout shake, because it doesn’t pop like other lesser bottles. I took it with me to the gym, filled it with xtend water and used it all workout, finished up and made a protein shake in it, as seen in the lovely post-workout, pre-hot tub image below.
In typical post-workout fashion, I brought my seriously scuffed up, favorite protein shaker from Power Gym to the hot tub, where I slowly drink my protein shake in peace. After finishing said shake, I put the empty bottle on a chair, took a shower, got changed and went home. This morning, I woke up and went to prepare my favorite bottle with my protein powder for lunch when a horrible realization occurred: I LEFT MY FAVORITE, UGLY, MESSED UP, OVER USED PROTEIN BOTTLE ON THAT CHAIR BY THE HOT TUB IN THE GYM. EFFFFFFFFF. EF. EF.
Naturally, I am going to get a new one ASAP. This bottle is unlike any other bottle. It has a super awesome piece that mixes your protein seamlessly into the water. Better yet, if you cut up lemons and place them in the water, it mixes them in too! Love it. It never breaks, never leaks, never fails, my fabulous Walmart bottle. I got it in Regina, Saskatchewan when I was doing my Masters, the first protein shaker I ever bought, before I realized protein should not be mixed with a spoon.
So RIP favorite protein shaker bottle. Perhaps I will find you tomorrow, then I will have two 🙂