Fasted Cardio: One Month Results + Pros and Cons

It’s been a little over a month since I started implementing fasted cardio into my training routine, so today I thought I’d share my results and experience with you. There are many studies and opinions on fasted cardio and whether or not it is better at promoting fat loss, or making fat loss easier and faster. I talked a little bit about the different theories in my previous post. In the end, sometimes I feel the only way to know if something works is to try it for yourself. So that’s what I did. Continue reading

How to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

healthy-thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which is a family-, fun-, and food-filled holiday for many people. If you’re on a diet or have a weight-loss goal in mind, however, Thanksgiving is probably causing you more anxiety than excitement. You may be wondering, How am I supposed to stick to my diet or eat healthy on Thanksgiving? While the holiday is centered around eating delicious and rich food—there’s the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberries, the candied yams, and, of course, the pie!—the day does not have to completely sabotage your diet or weight loss progress. I, for one, have been adhering to my meal plan and training program for the past three weeks and have lost three pounds; I’m not about to let one day set me back. Continue reading

Working Out at Home: Dumbbell Exercises for Upper Body

Working Out at Home - Upper Body Dumbbell Workout

Let’s Talk: Working Out at Home

Good afternoon, everyone! I can’t believe it’s been more than a week since I wrote my last post. My days have been pretty busy lately, especially with my freelance social media/digital marketing job. (I work for a jewelry retailer so it’s prime sales time with the holidays fast approaching!) I’ve also been busy sticking to my training (and meal) plan, which calls for twice daily workouts four to five days a week (I do fasted cardio in the morning and then a strength & cardio routine in the evening).

This week, however, my trainer is away on a much-needed vacation (he works 12-hour days, seven days a week!). While I’m glad he’s getting some time away—he certainly deserves it!—I’ve been doing so well with my training that I was a little disappointed when I realized I would be on my own for most of the week. Continue reading

Egg Muffins with Spinach and Peppers

Egg Muffins with Spinach and Peppers

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope your week is going well, and, if not, at least it’s almost over. Today I thought I’d share my recipe for egg muffins with you. I’ve made egg muffins several times before and several different ways. They’re a great option when you have little time in the morning to cook an omelet—or even eat breakfast—but want something quick, healthy, and filling that you can eat on the go.

When I was working full-time I would make egg muffins at night for the next day to save time in the morning—basically so that I could get a few extra minutes of sleep. Now that I work from home, I still like the idea of having my food ready to eat. And as I mentioned in my previous post, I recently started a new meal plan and training routine which involves fasted cardio. I have a protein shake and yogurt following my fasted cardio session and then have my second meal an hour to an hour and half later—and by that time I’m really hungry. For my second meal, I can have four egg whites, one whole egg, ½ cup of spinach or other vegetable (I use a mix of spinach and peppers), 1/3 cup oatmeal, and a tablespoon of Metamucil (to help keep me full).

Preparing and cooking all of that takes time, so to make things quicker—and avoid breaking from my meal plan—I prep at least two days’ worth of egg muffins in advance so that I can just pop them in the microwave and eat them as I prepare my oatmeal. (Plus, I don’t have to do any dishes and can get right back to work.)

You can make egg muffins any way you like, but I notice that they turn out better and are more enjoyable when at least one whole egg is used rather than only egg whites. (Egg white muffins tend to get a little rubbery in the microwave and have more of a sulfur taste and smell to them.) Since my meal plan allows for one whole egg, that’s the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

Egg Muffins with Spinach and Peppers Recipe
Makes 1 serving (4 muffins)

Ingredients for Egg Muffins Recipe

I’m making two servings of egg muffins, which yields 8 muffins.

Ingredients (per serving)
4 egg whites (12 tablespoons or 2/3 cup)
1 large egg
½ cup spinach and diced peppers (I fill the measuring cup ¾ of the way with spinach and top with diced peppers. I use about ½ of a small mini pepper.)
cooking spray

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray four muffin cups of a regular 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. (Spray additional cups if making more than one serving.)
2. In a measuring cup or bowl, mix 4 egg whites with large egg. Pour egg mixture into muffin cups, filling them about ¾ of the way to the top.
3. Wash and drain ½ cup of fresh spinach; tear into small pieces.
4. Wash one small mini bell pepper; cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds, and dice half the pepper into small pieces.
5. Fill a ½ cup measuring cup with spinach and diced peppers.
6. Top each egg-filled muffin cup with even amount of spinach and diced peppers.
7. Place muffin pan in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into egg muffins comes out clean.
8. Let cool, about 10 minutes. Use a toothpick to separate and remove the egg muffins from the pan.

Cooked Egg Muffins in Pan

Storage, Heating, and Prep Tips

Egg muffins can be eaten after cooked or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. If freezing the egg muffins, place the muffins in a Ziploc freezer bag to avoid freezer burn; freeze for up to one month for best taste.

To reheat egg muffins, place muffins on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave for one minute; let stand for 30 seconds, then microwave for an additional 30 – 40 seconds. (This is to prevent the egg muffins from exploding in the microwave.)

When adding the spinach and diced peppers to the eggs, add the spinach first and then add the diced peppers. This will help keep the peppers on top of the spinach so that they don’t sink to the bottom, which will make it easier to remove the eggs muffins from the pan once they’re cooked and cooled.

Prepared Egg Muffins with Spinach and Peppers in Pan

Have you ever made egg muffins? How do you like to prepare them? Share your tips and recipes in the comments!

Running on Empty: My First Attempt at Fasted Cardio

Let's Talk Fasted Cardio

This morning was my third day doing fasted cardio. If you’re not familiar with fasted cardio, it’s exactly what its name implies—performing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The reason I started implementing this technique is because I reached out to Tracy Hess, an IFBB pro who trains at my gym, to devise a meal plan for me last week. To my (pleasant) surprise, she not only developed a meal plan for me but also gave me a resistance training program and advised me to do fasted cardio five days a week for 45 minutes each session.

I’ve read about fasted cardio before, and I know it’s a topic of much debate in the fitness and bodybuilding community. The theory behind fasted cardio is that you’ll burn more fat working out in a fasted state compared to working out after you eat. This is because when your body is in a fasted state, it has a low or no supply of glycogen (glycogen is the stored carbohydrates that the body prefers to use for exercise), therefore your body is able to tap into its fat stores for energy faster, meaning you burn a greater percentage of fat during your workout.

(*Note: You’ll burn the same amount of calories performing cardio in a fasted and non-fasted state; where those calories come from (fat vs. carbs) is the idea behind fasted cardio.)

Why I (Finally) Decided to Give Fasted Cardio a Try

There are both pros and cons to fasted cardio—which is why it continues to be heavily debated. I had previously considered adding it to my training routine until I read the facts against it (more on that later) and weighed the thought of getting up early to work out with no immediate energy source (i.e., food) present. It seemed like skipping fasted cardio was a no-brainer.

It's Fasted Cardio Time

After meeting with Tracy and going over my goals, I decided to give fasted cardio a shot. I not only have Tracy’s physique and expert knowledge to back up my decision; I also have the results I’ve seen with her clients. One of them recently competed in her first bikini competition—and won!

When I went over the meal plan and training program with Adam (my trainer), he said that the fasted cardio will make me tired, but that it will definitely help get rid of the extra fat around my stomach and hips, which is exactly what I need. That’s also one of the pros of fasted cardio: it helps get rid of “stubborn” fat from the hips, thighs, and butt. (You can read more about how fasted cardio helps get rid of stubborn fat here.)

While fasted cardio increases your body’s ability to burn fat, specifically from “trouble” spots, it does have one major drawback: it increases the breakdown of muscle tissue.

Training in a fasted state puts stress on the body and because there is no immediate source of glycogen present your body begins to break down muscle—along with fat—for fuel. This is the major drawback of fasted cardio, especially since muscle is metabolically active (meaning it helps you burn more calories, even when you’re not physically active). In a way, fasted cardio is a double-edged sword: it helps you lose stubborn body fat, but it also helps you lose muscle tissue, which will decrease your metabolic rate. (Not to mention you worked hard for that muscle, the last thing you want to do is lose it!)

Luckily there is a way to counteract this effect: branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). According to various studies, supplementing with BCAAs 10 – 15 minutes before performing fasted cardio will help suppress the breakdown of muscle.

Take BCAAs before fasted cardio

I’ve worked very hard to build the muscles in my legs and butt these past few months and I’m extremely happy with the results I’ve gotten. I was afraid fasted cardio would take all of that beautiful muscle growth away from me…so today I picked up some BCAAs at GNC.

I’ve only done three fasted cardio sessions thus far, and I doubt not having the BCAAs beforehand caused me significant muscle loss. However, I don’t want to risk it and will be supplementing with BCAAs from now on.

My Experience with Fasted Cardio (So Far)

Though it’s only been three days, I do want to say that fasted cardio is easier than I thought (hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself). I thought it would be hard to get up and work out for 45 minutes every morning, but knowing that this could help me reach my goal and target the areas where I WANT to lose weight keeps me going. Some other benefits I’ve experienced include having more energy after my workouts and feeling more accomplished. Plus, there is now a longer rest period between my cardio and weight training sessions, so I don’t feel like I’m going from one workout to the next.

On the flip side, I can see how this may get old pretty fast. I noticed that I’m tired earlier in the night. Part of this is good because I wanted to improve my sleep, and knowing that I have to work out first thing in the morning motivates me to get to bed earlier. And since I’m going to bed earlier, I don’t have the time or desire to snack on something sweet, which was a major flaw in my diet.

With the mornings getting colder and colder, however, I can see that it could get harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. Even this morning I stayed in bed a few minutes longer, debating if I should skip the fasted cardio or not. In the end, I know I have a goal I want to reach and that I need to stay consistent if I want this to get easier and become a regular habit. And once I got up and hopped on the elliptical, I knew I made the right decision. After the first five minutes I was ready to keep going, and I even went a few minutes longer.

It’s still early and only time will tell if fasted cardio is right for me. I plan to do a follow-up post in the next couple weeks to update you on my progress and any issues I’ve experienced.

What do think about fasted cardio? Have you tried it? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!

Healthy Halloween Treats + Tricks to Avoid Temptation

Healthy Halloween Treats and Tips

Fall is my favorite time of year, so it only makes sense that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the chill in the air…the spooky decorations…the fun festivities like carving pumpkins, going on haunted hayrides, and dressing up in costume…the scary and not-so-scary movies (hello, Hocus Pocus!)…and the way Halloween lets you go back to feeling and acting like a kid for a day. And then, of course, there’s the candy!

While I’m all for indulging in moderation—sometimes you just need a piece of chocolate and not a carrot!—I think it’s a good idea to have healthy alternatives on hand to lessen the damage when a severe craving strikes. I also think it’s important to have a game plan for avoiding treats around Halloween—as well as the ensuing holiday season—so that you stay on track with your goals and don’t fall (back) into unhealthy habits.

Here are some ideas for healthy Halloween treats as well as some tips for avoiding that evil candy bowl. Continue reading

It’s Plyometric: Burn Fat Fast with This Do-Anywhere 30-Minute Plyometric Circuit

30-minute Plyometrics Circuit

Happy Workout Wednesday, everyone! Are you planning to work out today? If you have a full-time job, kids, a side project (like a really awesome blog!), and a lengthy to-do list, then finding time to hit the gym may sound impossible.

I’ve had a pretty busy week myself: on top of work, developing my personal business plan, and helping my trainer with his social media marketing, I’m also taking an online course. But I refuse to let my fitness goals fall by the wayside! Luckily, for the past few weeks I’ve been incorporating some plyometric exercises into my weekly workout routine. Continue reading