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    ICON Meals Blog — healthy eating

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    How To Eat Healthy In College

    How To Eat Healthy In College

    From Michael Mastrucci (@themacrodiabetic)

    College students are no strangers to full class loads that include cramming for exams, late-night studying, and regular assignments or projects. Many students take on part-time (and some even full-time) jobs to keep some money in their pocket, be it for course materials they may need, some weekend spending money, or trying to get ahead on their savings. While everyone works for that end-goal or "light at the end of the tunnel" there's no doubt things can be hectic and feel like they might never let up.

    But amidst the chaos in trying to keep the pace going and not fall short on whatever deadlines you may face, it's of the utmost importance to NEVER neglect your health.

    Sometimes it seems like all you have time for between classes and studying is to reach for a pack of ramen, an energy drink, or some fast food on the corner. And while all food is sustenance in some way, WHAT you put in your body determines just how far and well you'll be able to perform both physically and mentally.

    While I'm not here to bore you with a word problem, assuming you hear enough of those in math class already, think of your body and mind as a car. You have a long trip ahead of you and need to ensure your car doesn't just drive as long as you need, but that you won't have any permanent breakdowns along the way. Knowing your car runs on a certain type of fuel, ask yourself: what would putting the WRONG fuel in my car do for my journey? Would it be able to function optimally to get me where I need to go?

    You see, food is the same.

    By choosing relatively unprocessed, whole-food sources you're providing your body with the ability to remain healthy and your mind the opportunity to remain focused on the demands placed on it. Of course, this can be easier said than done, as those quick grab-and-go types of foods aren't just convenient (and often cheaper than the healthy stuff), they tend to taste better too. But the keyword here is "cheap" and opting for foods that give you the RIGHT nutrients offer you more than just "growing big and strong.”

    Back in my college days, I put a lot of the wrong fuel in my body. Sleepless nights studying were often fueled by too much caffeine and convenience store snacks. This often came at the cost of lethargy, low energy throughout the day, and just feeling like I was in a constant mental fog no matter how much I slept or tried to get into a studying groove during my classes.

    How I wish I had ICON Meals then!

    What I enjoy most about them is how they don't just give healthy options to choose from (be it their weekly Signature Menu or their custom meal options) but they all taste great. These days my routine stays just as busy between auditing classes from my degree as well as running my own web development company. This keeps me extremely busy and I don't have time to stop what I'm doing to cook every single meal, much less spend my weekend grocery shopping, cooking, and prepping the following week's meals in advance.

    ICON Meals doesn't just take the guess-work out of what I'm going to eat, they save me massive amounts of time I wouldn't have otherwise, allowing me to grab a healthy meal and keep grinding away at everything on my plate (pun intended).

    Even when I DID start taking care of myself with a proper fitness and nutritional routine I never considered a meal-prep/delivery service before. But if I'm going to spend the money grocery shopping just to spend chunks of time weighing and cooking the food only to package it up for when I need it, why not just have ICON Meals do the majority of it for me?

    All the food is properly weighed out and comes from REAL food that isn't processed. It's minimally seasoned (especially the custom meals) so I can spice dishes up a different way if I want to. They have options for protein, carb, and vegetable sources I enjoy having regardless of whether I made them myself or used them!

    Treat your body right by feeding it right. Remember that good practices make good habits and that even after your time at school, things stay busy. For that reason alone, while your education sets your career up for success, ICON Meals sets your nutrition, body, and mind up to keep you going.

    Stay connected with blog author Michael Mastrucci on

    Want to be featured by ICON Meals? Submit your stories to or send us a DM on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!

    8 Ways To Feel Full While Cutting Calories

    8 Ways To Feel Full While Cutting Calories

    From Michael Mastrucci (@themacrodiabetic)


    Two hormones have a major influence on energy balance: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin mediates long-term energy regulation and is responsible for decreasing hunger. Ghrelin is the yin to leptin’s yang, a fast-acting hormone that increases hunger.


    When you’re cutting, putting your body in an intentional caloric deficit, the body’s subconscious response is to increase ghrelin which leads to cravings and hunger pangs. This is true even in short cutting periods. And if you give in to these cravings, your cutting will have been for nothing! Here are eight ways to counteract the body’s hunger response:



    ICON Meals - Caffeine

    1. Caffeine

    Black coffee’s caffeine content can blunt hunger. However, it’s not a panacea and I wouldn’t recommend downing a pot later in the day.


    ICON Meals - Distractions

    2. Distractions

    There’s nothing like watching your favorite show or a movie during dinner to help you chill out after a long day, and mild hunger can fade when our minds are distracted with entertainment. Take care to fully enjoy your food — chew thoroughly, swallow, set your fork down, take a sip of water. It’s not a race.


    ICON Meals - Fasting


    3. Fasting

    Some people have no trouble pushing their meals until later in the day, and fasting can be effective for fat loss — but it is definitely not REQUIRED. Before jumping on the fasting bandwagon pay close attention to how it affects your energy levels. There’s no reason to force your body to take on additional stress when already in a deficit.


    ICON Meals Flavors


    4. Flavor

    If you’re finding your food a little bland, adding spices and other flavors can make it more palatable without adding excessive amounts of sodium or sugar — ICON Flavor Seasonings are a great example. Too much salt and sugar can numb taste receptors over time, leave you feeling hungry, and make lightly-seasoned foods less satisfying.


    ICON Meals - Hydration


    5. Hydration

    Drinking water is far better than eating more calories when maintaining a deficit. Most importantly, you need water to help regulate a vast number of physiological processes and stay healthy. Drinking water before and after a meal (and in between bites) helps to promote fullness and keeps your digestive system working properly.


    ICON Meals Grilled Chicken Lean Box


    5. Nutrients

    Whole foods are your best bet for overall health. 200 calories of potato chips are mostly empty of valuable nutrition —instead, opt for veggies or micronutrient-dense foods to get far more bang for your caloric buck. Additionally, nutrient-dense foods often provide your body with better energy levels and can be much easier on digestion.


    ICON Meals Mentality


    6. Mentality

    Going to bed hungry is a big pet peeve of mine, so I like to save the majority of my daily calories for the last meal of the day. This doesn’t agree with everyone, and that’s ok. After you’ve eaten dinner, it’s important to remember that you’re not going to starve. If you get those post-dinner cravings, drink water, stay occupied, and see how you feel in 20 minutes.


    ICON Meals Sleep


    7. Sleep

    Sleep affects hormone regulation, and lack of it will put leptin and ghrelin out of balance. To prevent cravings and dips in your energy, your body needs to get full, complete rest. This is doubly important when you’re intentionally depriving yourself of calories.


    ICON Meals Fork


    8. Utensil Size

    Psychological tricks can help us feel fuller without actually changing our food. Smaller silverware and dishes visually trick our minds into thinking our portions are larger and therefore more satisfying.

    Holiday Weight Loss Guide

    Holiday Weight Loss Guide

    Here’s a story that may sound familiar - a person starts a new diet with a weight loss meal plan and they’re really excited about how it’s finally going to change their health around. Maybe there’s some early success! Eventually though, six months or maybe even two years down the road, the diet fails. It happens to so many people that it’s almost an expectation.


    A scientifically sound weight loss meal plan is a fantastic foundation for losing weight. Obviously what you eat matters, A LOT. But that’s not enough — without a long-term strategy for success in place most diets are doomed to fail. We want you to take the weight off and keep it off, so here are three ways to make your weight loss meal plan successful for the long haul.



    1. Set Realistic Goals


    Goals should be concrete daily objectives like “drink a gallon of water a day for 30 days” or “work out arms for 30 minutes today.” Writing down and working toward short-term activity based goals is a common strategy for successful professionals in all walks of life — athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs — but those goals have to be realistic to have any chance of working. 


    The best strategy is to reverse engineer your long-term visions to create short-term goals. Let’s say you want to lose 5 pounds in a month. Twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise in addition to cutting out processed sugars everyday is a rational, attainable goal. 



    2. Healthy Caloric Deficit


    Putting yourself in caloric deficit (burning more calories than you ingest) is absolutely essential for weight loss, but it is incredibly easy to do so in ways that negatively affect your health and sabotage your long-term goals.


    Cutting too many calories too fast will send your body into survival mode, crippling your metabolism as it desperately stores away all energy from everything you consume — your lizard brain thinks you are starving. Your body won’t want to burn fat.


    Instead, figure out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight and cut that number by 20%. This shouldn’t be enough of a change to trigger your body’s survival mode. Not sure how many calories you’re taking in every day? Keep on reading.



    3. Accurately Count Calories


    We know, we know. Counting calories can be a demanding chore, but it really is necessary for long-term weight loss success. Good news though — a good weight loss meal plan (like our Lean Box) does the work for you! The calories of every meal are already counted for you — simply put the numbers into your favorite nutrition app, or write them down old-school in a nutrition journal. 


    And don’t forget — document EVERYTHING. A little snack here and there might not seem like much, but those calories add up too. 



    In It To Win It


    If you’re thinking about investing in yourself and getting healthy with a weight loss meal plan, congratulations — you deserve to live your best life! Help guarantee your self-investment is successful in the long run by adding these tips to your weight loss strategy. 


    ICON Meals Signature Menu

    Foods That Cause Inflammation and Joint Pain

    Foods That Cause Inflammation and Joint Pain

    Originally posted on the NutraBio blog


    You are what you eat – this is one of the most popular phrases that you must have heard some time in your life. It is the notion that in order to be fit and healthy, you need to consume healthy and nutritious food. On the flip side, there are foods that cause inflammation and joint pain.


    Healthy food choices should be a part of everyone’s lifestyle and even more so for those suffering from inflammation and joint pain. Some foods are beneficial for inflammation and joint pain, but on the other hand, some actually cause inflammation that can have some severe consequences on the mind and body. There are certain compounds found in some foods that trigger the body to produce chemicals that can cause inflammation and joint pain. If not corrected, inflammation can lead to more severe and chronic health conditions.


    For that reason, here are some foods that cause inflammation that you should be aware of and try to avoid, whenever possible.

    Avoid These Foods That Cause Inflammation And Joint Pain 


    We know how those tasty pastries and desserts are irresistible to eat. But, processed sugars will trigger cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers in your body that cause inflammation and joint pain. Keep an eye out for ingredients such as fructose, sucrose, or anything that ends with “ose” and avoid consuming them. 


    It is advisable to limit sugar intake, in general, because too much of that sweet deliciousness is unhealthy for you. If you have joint pain tendencies, for example in your knees, you must avoid processed sugars in items like soft drinks, candy, ice cream, desserts, etc. A 2017 study showed that more than 200 people suffered from inflammation or arthritis due to sugar intake in their food.  


    Limiting consumption of alcohol is always good for your body, especially if you have inflammatory issues. Some studies show that excess alcohol consumption leads to systematic inflammation as it takes a toll on your normal gut functions. This inflammation can lead to joint pain, as well. 


    Apart from that, alcohol may also trigger gout attacks, and it can get quite severe. So, under drinks that cause inflammation, alcohol is a definite no-no.

    Saturated Fats

    There are many studies that have stated that saturated fats activate fat tissue inflammation, also known as adipose. It does not only trigger heart diseases but also makes joint pain and inflammation worse. So, under foods that cause inflammation, you have to put foods like pizza and cheese to the side or at least to a minimum.


    The United States is full of people who are sensitive to gluten, which is the protein found in certain grains such as wheat and barley. According to studies, gluten-containing foods lead to increased inflammation and joint pain. There are many people who have gone gluten-free, and it has eased their inflammation and joint pain issues. If you are looking to get rid of the same problems, it may be wise for you to change up your nutrition and try a gluten-free diet.

    Omega-6 Fatty Acids

    Omega-6 fatty acids are one of the most essential components that your body requires for growth and development. But, overconsumption of Omega-6 fatty acids can lead to inflammation. You have to maintain a healthy balance of Omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. If you consume excess Omega-6, then your body will activate pro-inflammatory chemicals. 


    You will find Omega-6 fatty acids in the following foods:


    • Sunflower
    • Corn
    • Soy
    • Peanut
    • Mayonnaise
    • Safflower 
    • Some salad dressings
    • Fried foods and junk food



    MSG (Mono-Sodium Glutamate) is quite a popular ingredient around the world. It is that magic powder that makes every fast food dish more delicious. You can find this food that causes inflammation in various Asian cuisines, soy sauce, and some fast foods. This chemical activates chronic inflammation and can also negatively affect your liver.


    Processed Foods

    Processed foods such as cereal, fast food items, ready to eat snacks, etc., are generally high in preservatives, added sugar, refined grains, and mostly inflammatory chemicals, which can cause severe joint pain. Processed foods contain trans fats, which help preserve the food item, but unfortunately, it triggers an inflammatory response and can lead to joint pain. Hence, you must avoid processed foods as much as possible, as it can cause inflammation and other serious diseases as well. 


    Foods That Helps To Reduce Inflammation

    Now that we are aware of foods that cause inflammation, it is time for us to know some foods that fall under the “you can eat” list. Here are some foods that will help you ease inflammation and lessen joint pain through its consumption.


    • Fruit
    • Salmon, sardines, and other fatty fish
    • Almonds and nuts
    • Poultry
    • Green tea
    • Beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes
    • Whole grains
    • Olive oil, coconut oil, and other healthy fats
    • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
    • Avocados and olives


    Get Proactive To Fight Inflammation And Joint Pain

    A well-balanced diet and exercise are all it takes to take good care of your health. The same goes for inflammation and joint pain as well. If you consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and avoid sugar, gluten, alcohol, and other foods that cause inflammation and joint pain mentioned above, you can more easily live a healthy life while minimizing inflammation and joint pain that can slow you down and decrease your mobility and movement. Try to eliminate the foods that cause inflammation for a month, and you will be amazed at the positive result you can yield. 


    Attempt to make some changes to your nutrition and implement some of the things mentioned above in this article and see how they make you feel after a week or more. You may be surprised at how much a difference it can make. 


    If you want to take things to the next level, add NutraBio Extreme Joint Care to your supplement regimen to help promote mobility, renew cartilage, maintain healthy connective tissue, and help revitalize your joints. 


    Whether you are already suffering from joint pain, or you simply want to get ahead of it, making these changes to your diet can help. To take your improved diet to the next level, NutraBio Extreme Joint Care contains a supporting matrix of clinically validated and patented ingredients to help improve the overall health and function of your joints. Don’t allow inflammation and joint pain to ruin your life or workouts!

    Wyatt Medlin’s ICONIC Weight Loss Journey

    Wyatt Medlin’s ICONIC Weight Loss Journey

    In college Wyatt was a weightlifter and avid swimmer. After graduating and entering the workforce, something happened that is all too common — life got in the way and fitness was no longer part of his daily routine. 


    Just before January 2021 he weighed 321 lbs, and started eating ICON meals in the new year. His after pics are from June 15th, 50 pounds lighter and looking great! Read on to hear how he got past his biggest challenge: “getting started again.”


    Wyatt Medlin Weight Loss ICON Meals


    Can you describe the moment when you decided to make a change? What caused you to make that decision?


    Late 2020 I went on a family vacation to the mountains and found myself extremely winded and out of breath while hiking trails, struggling to keep up, at only 30 years old. Being an active person most of my life, growing up playing sports and enjoying working out, it hit me very quickly that I had lost focus for my own well-being and had let myself no longer be a priority. It was time to make a change!


    When you started, what was your original vision or goal?


    My original goal was to realign my physical, emotional, and personal priorities. Finding a new

    routine, trusting the process, becoming comfortable again in the gym, and hitting new goals!


    What has been your biggest struggle along the journey so far?


    Shifting around a schedule to ensure that I allow myself time every day to be better as a human. 


    Do you remember when you finally began to see progress? When was that and how did you feel?


    A few weeks into my journey and it was motivating and exciting!


    Where are you now? Describe your results and how you feel.


    I'm 6.5 months into my journey and ICON Meals has allowed me to follow a healthy, clean diet that takes the guesswork out! I am feeling proud and excited for what's to come!


    What advice do you have for others that want to make a change?


    Take the first step. You won't regret it! 


    Has your journey impacted others? If so, in what way?


    My twin sister has joined along on her own journey and it's been so fulfilling to see her progress as well!



    Share Your Own ICONIC Story!

    Have ICON meals helped you reach your fitness goals? Share your story and inspire others to start their journey.