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    ICON Meals Blog — protein

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    3 Custom Meals For Fat Loss

    3 Custom Meals For Fat Loss

    Calories put on pounds, simple as that. If you want to lose weight, just cut out the calories, right? Well — it’s not that simple. To stay HEALTHY while cutting you still need to eat well. The key is to load up your diet with foods rich in nutrients and proteins, and low in saturated fats and calories. High-protein foods keep you feeling full longer, reducing hunger cravings — the #1 diet destroyer.

     

    How much protein is enough for you? According to the Dietary Reference Intake Report, the maintenance zone for sedentary people is 0.36g/day for every pound they weigh*. Let’s assume readers of this blog are more active and focused on muscle building, we’ll increase that number to 0.75g/day. If you weigh 220lbs, you need 165g/protein a day.

     

    Three Custom Meals Designed To Lose Fat

     

    1. Chicken, Sweet Potato Mash, and Green Beans

    It’s tough to get any cleaner than this meal. Our super lean chicken breast clocks in at 6.25g of protein per ounce. Green Beans provide an incredible amount of nutrients in a calorically small package, and our sweet potato mash will keep you feeling full and energetic! This balanced and tasty meal is perfect for controlling weight.

     

    ICON Meals Chicken Custom Meal

     

    2. Shrimp, Red Potatoes, and Broccoli 

    Inspired by Louisiana crawfish boils, this meal features low-fat, high-protein shrimp that will keep hunger at bay without piling on the calories. Red potatoes provide valuable healthy fats (necessary for any healthy diet), a reasonable amount of carbs, and a bonus boost of protein. Broccoli provides an incredible amount of nutrients in a calorically small package.

     

    ICON Meals Custom Meals Shrimp

     

    3. Turkey Breast, Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans

    Feeling like some fall-favorite comfort food? Turkey is almost as protein-packed as chicken at 6g/oz, while still being super clean and lean. Add just a little oven roasted sweet potato for flavor balance and fiber, plus green beans to round out the carbs and add even more fiber. It’s a meal that will fill you up on just a few calories.

     

    ICON Meals Custom Meal Turkey

    We’ll Do The Math For You!

    Our website features a macro calculator that updates live as you select between portion sizes. It’s incredibly easy for you to find your perfect macro balance with a few clicks.

     

    Just remember: if you’re active you need to consume roughly 0.5g of protein for every pound you weigh, daily.

     

    Put together your custom meals today.

     


     

    *https://ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

    Growing Muscle Faster by Optimizing Protein Synthesis

    Growing Muscle Faster by Optimizing Protein Synthesis

    Building vs Breaking Down

     

    Throughout the day your body switches between synthesizing and breaking down protein. To build muscle you want your muscle protein synthesis (MPS) to exceed protein breakdown rate (PBR).

     

    When you are fasting your PBR rises, and if PBR is higher than MPS the result is muscle loss — negative protein balance. When you eat protein MPS goes up, and when MPS exceeds PBR the result is muscle gain.

     

    The Basic Formula

     

    PBR > MPS = muscle loss

    MPS > PBR = muscle gain

     

    How To Do It

     

    The most important part of growth/retention is consuming enough protein, and you can optimize synthesis rates with numerous high-quality protein feedings during the day. These also ensure you retain muscle while you’re in a deficit.

     

    For example (and I’m generalizing): whey protein elevates synthesis rates for 4 hours while casein does so for 6. The idea is to re-spike MPS rates when they begin to fall so MPR doesn’t exceed them. That’s one good reason whey is preferred during the day, while casein is better for sleeping/longer periods between feedings.

     

    It’s About Speed

     

    This isn’t to say if you decide to fast most of the day muscle starts “falling off” your frame. The body stubbornly holds onto muscle and fat. But, if you want faster progress in strength, size, and energy, numerous quality feedings is the way to go.

     

    I don’t find myself hungry during the day and prefer to bank calories until my last meal. However, ensuring I consume protein several times a day makes a huge impact on my progress, especially when I’m trying to build muscle and strength.

     

    Get them feedings in!

     

    Michael Mastrucci (Follow on Instagram)

    The Macro Diabetic, Host of Diabetically Speaking

    When Should You Eat Carbs? By Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

    When Should You Eat Carbs? By Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

    You may have heard about “protein timing,” — but if you haven’t it refers to the distribution of protein throughout the day, and before/after training sessions for optimal muscle protein synthesis (the process by which cells make proteins).


    There are different studies and philosophies on how this should be accomplished depending on your overall goals. If you train regularly, then you probably have a system down pat already.


    But are you paying attention to “carb timing?”


    If you’re not, you might be putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to your health, physique, and losing those last 5-10 lbs


    The research for carbs and high-intensity exercise is very clear; however, the research about meal distribution for metabolic flexibility and body composition is not as well-established and definitely not widely-recognized.


    So why should you pay attention to how you distribute carbs throughout the day?


    It primarily has to deal with “metabolic flexibility,” or your body’s ability to adapt to different metabolic demands (aka the stress you put on it through eating and training).


    We know that the consumption of any carbohydrates requires an insulin response so that our cells can absorb the sugars from the macronutrient for energy. Eat too many carbs, though, and your body might not be able to keep up.


    Research studies have shown that the body can use (burn or store) about 40 grams of carbs after a meal (assuming you’re not exercising while digesting the meal). Meals that exceed 40 grams require more and more insulin to shut down fat metabolism and force the extra carbs to be converted into fat for storage.


    This limits the body’s ability to burn fats, increases fluctuations in blood glucose, and increases hunger.


    For the average person trying to lose weight - keeping carbs lower at the beginning of the day and higher towards the end of the day.




    Stay connected with Team ICON Member Emily Hayden:

    Want to be featured by ICON Meals? Submit your stories to info@iconmeals.com or send us a DM on IG or Facebook! 

    Macros Made Simple by April Imholte

    Macros Made Simple by April Imholte

    Do you ever hear the word “Macros” and nod your head like you know exactly what the other person is talking about when in reality, you have absolutely no clue? It wasn’t that long ago, I myself looked like a deer in headlights when Macros was the topic of conversation. A few years ago, I started digging deep into understanding macros and how they can affect your physique. 

     

    Let me be the first to tell you that understanding Macros is comparable to “winning the jackpot” when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. It’s a complete game changer. And the good news is, it isn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem.   

     

    If you want to impress your friends and family and contribute to the next conversation you are a part of surrounding this very topic, keep reading as I break down the ABCs of Macros for you in 5 simple steps.  

     

    1. What exactly are Macros? Macronutrients, aka “Macros”, are simply your Proteins, Fats and Carbs. They make up the foods we eat and are needed in large amounts in order to provide our body with energy (aka calories) on a daily basis. Macros allow our body to function properly and carry out activities of daily life. Certain food items are considered to be Proteins, others Fats and then there’s my personal favorite, Carbs. Some foods contain a little of each macro and are considered to be “combo foods.”   

    2. What is the function of each Macronutrient? Protein is responsible for several duties; primarily repairing and rebuilding tissues which includes, you guessed it, lean muscle tissue. Protein contains essential amino acids which are the “building blocks” for our muscles. This is not exclusive to muscle tissue but also includes skin, hair, nails, even the cells that line our intestinal tract. Protein also helps support immune function which can ward off illnesses. Our body must convert protein sources into essential amino acids. In order to ensure I am getting enough of the essential amino acids my body requires, I also supplement with REAAL EAAs which have been clinically proven to be 3x more effective than whey protein and 36x more effective than BCAAs at building and restoring lean muscle tissue! Carbohydrates are our bodies primary source of energy. This includes the cells of the brain. Last but not least, let’s talk about fats, which tend to get a bad rap. Healthy fats supply our body with fatty acids. These fatty acids must be consumed through the foods we eat as our bodies cannot make them, such as Omega-3 found in fish oil. Fats also aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as Vit A, D, E and K. They also help to protect vital internal organs.  

    3. What are some examples of Proteins, Fats and Carbs? One of the easiest ways to understand if a food source is considered a protein, fat or carb is to read the nutrition label. If the grams of one macronutrient are higher than the others, that is what it should be considered. For example, let’s say the protein grams in an item are quite a bit higher than carbs or fats, you would consider that food to be a protein source. Ideally, the majority of foods consumed per day will be whole foods. If there is no nutrition label to refer to, here is a list that you may find helpful.  

      1. Lean Protein Sources: chicken breast, turkey breast, extra lean ground beef, egg whites, fish, and dairy products such as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt.  

      2. Carbohydrates: fruit, potatoes, rice, oats, quinoa (also contains a good amount of protein), beans, whole wheat bread, starchy vegetables.  When choosing carbohydrates, stick to complex carbs versus simple carbs such as sugar, sweets, juice, etc. 

      3. Healthy Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, natural peanut butter or almond butter, fatty meats such as salmon, and egg yolks.  

    4. How do Macros make up our Calorie Intake for the day? Most people would be able to give you a fairly close estimate of how many calories they consume from day to day. However, if asked how many grams of protein, fats and carbs one consumes per day, the majority have no clue. Simply put, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats all contain calories. Protein and Carbs contain 4cal/gram. Whereas Fat, which is more calorie dense, contains 9cal/gram. For example, if a food item contains 20g of Protein, 80 calories would be derived from Protein. It’s simple math but helpful in understanding how food makes up your total calorie intake per day.  

    5. How do I know how many Macros to consume per day? This question is the most complicated to answer as not two individuals are alike when it comes to nutrition. Trying to copy a meal plan your buddy, neighbor, spouse, has will most likely not work for you. Hiring an online trainer or following a program like those offered on bodybuiling.com will be your best bet when it comes to figuring out what works for you. If you are looking for a general starting point, the 40/40/20 rule is a good place to begin. 40% of your calories should come from carbs, 40% from protein and the other 20% from fats. For example, if following a 2000 calorie diet, this would equal out to 200g protein, 200g carbs and 44g fat daily. I would also encourage you to document your daily intake using a macro tracker such as Myfitnesspal app.  

    In conclusion, the best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with macros. Stay consistent for at least a week and only adjust your macros if you aren’t making progress. And remember, progress is measured by more than just a number on the scale. Until next time, wake up each day reminding yourself to Be Strong & Courageous and Keep “Livin Fit”.  

     

    For more helpful training tips, workout ideas, macro-friendly recipes and more, follow me on Instagram@aprilimholte

     


     

    Stay connected with ICON Meals Influencer April Imholte:

    Want to be featured by ICON Meals? 

    Submit your stories to info@iconmeals.com or send us a DM on IG or Facebook!

    How to Increase Muscle & Minimize Fat Gain

    How to Increase Muscle & Minimize Fat Gain

    Originally published on nutrabio.com


     

    You clicked on this article because you want to put on slabs of muscle, right?  Here’s the part that scares people… You need to put yourself in a caloric surplus in order to accomplish that. Yes, the same surplus that causes so many to gain dreaded body fat.  The question becomes, can you effectively increase muscle mass while minimizing fat gain?  To put it simply, yes.  You can increase muscle while minimizing fat gain.  However, there is a balancing act that needs to take place.  So, put your arms out, steady yourself, and let’s jump in. 

    Below in this article will be some of the best tips and tricks to keep your body fat under control while trying to increase muscle mass.  But first, let’s discuss the difference between bulking cycles as they differ significantly. 

    Clean Bulking Vs. Dirty Bulking

    If you’re trying to increase muscle and minimize fat gain, you will want to focus on clean bulking.  What does that mean?  It means keeping your nutrition in check while in a caloric surplus and filling it with healthy macronutrients – clean sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  Notice how all three macronutrients are included in the previous sentence?  That’s because they are all going to fill a role when trying to increase muscle mass. 

    On the opposite side of the spectrum is dirty bulking.  This approach is where you eat anything and everything in an effort to put on weight (including fast food) – which can lead to massive increases in fat gain. 

    The tips below will fall under the clean bulking method as the last thing you want to do is put on a ton of body fat (you will gain a little during a clean bulk, though) and then spend the next several months on a treadmill trying to lose all of that weight which in the process could strip away some of your hard-earned muscle. 

    Track Your Nutrition

    The goal when trying to increase muscle mass while minimizing fat gain is not allowing your caloric surplus to get away from you.  While you need to eat more than you would to achieve your maintenance level, that doesn’t mean taking a 2,000-calorie maintenance and jumping up to 4,000 calories per day, thinking the almighty Gainz God is going to shine down on you. 

    Take it slow and increase your calories by around 10% and see how you fair after a week.  If you notice you’re gaining weight, but when you check your body fat it’s gone up, back it down a little bit to around a 5% increase in your calories.  Remember, slow and steady will help prevent fat gain.  Strive for 0.5-1.0lb of weight gain each week.  Anything more and you’re potentially adding body fat. 

    At the same time, track your nutrition with something like MyFitnessPal.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and while you may think you’re at a sweet spot with your nutrition, you could either be drastically over or drastically under your calories, which will not provide you the results you’re looking for. 

    Prioritizing Protein

    Protein is your friend.  You need protein in order to help increase muscle mass.  Strive for around 1g per pound of body weight.  Make sure you have protein in every meal and each snack.  Things like steak, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef, nuts, seeds, legumes, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt, to name a few. 

    Achieving 1g can be difficult for some who aren’t used to eating a lot of protein.  Therefore, it may be wise to consider a protein supplement to help you increase your protein intake without force-feeding yourself. 

    NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate would be a fantastic and clean protein source that is extremely low in carbohydrates while containing zero fat.  This allows you to enjoy a delicious treat while easily increasing your protein intake.  With more than a handful of flavors to choose from, you’ll always have a wide selection to choose from, regardless of what you’re craving. 

    Leverage Your Carbohydrate Intake

    Where a lot of people go wrong is thinking they need to drastically increase their carbs in a bulk.  Not so fast. Instead, what you should do is be specific about when you are consuming your increase in carbs.   

    Leveraging your carbohydrate intake around your training will be your best bet.  Have a carb-filled meal pre-workout (around 60-90 minutes prior) to benefit from the added glycogen and then also post-workout (with a protein powder) to help replenish glycogen and kickstart the recovery process. 

    Keep Healthy Fats In Your Diet

    People tend to shy away from fat as they believe eating it will cause them to experience fat gain.  That’s not always true.  Consuming healthy fats will not only help you feel satiated, but it can also help balance hormones and even boost your testosterone levels (which you would greatly benefit from while bulking). 

    Look at natural sources like fish, steak, nut butter, seeds, and whole nuts.  Add those to your meals and reap the benefits of healthy fats. 

    Train Hard And Heavy

    This is pretty straightforward and one that we aren’t going to spend a lot of time on.  If you want to increase muscle, you need to lift heavy.  Now, that doesn’t mean maxing out each workout.  What it means is, using a weight you can achieve 8-10 repetitions with where the last few reps you’re really pushing yourself.  Going to failure on every set of every exercise is not going to be beneficial. 

    If you wanted to hit some isolation exercises at the end of your workout where you lighten the weight, go for it, but make sure if you’re hitting 15 reps where your muscles are on fire before you put the weight down (you want to make sure you are going to failure if using lighter weights to really break down those muscle fibers). 

    Back Off On The Cardio

    Now is not the time for marathon cardio sessions.  For health and heart benefits, you can still keep some cardio in your routine, but do not be obsessive with it as you’ll be burning off the calories you need to increase muscle mass – which will only force you to eat more food in order to make up for the reduction. 

    That being said, at least keeping some cardio in your plan will further help you minimize fat gain while you bulk.  Just make sure your calories at the end of the day are still around 10% higher than your maintenance. 

    Get Enough Sleep

    This section is incredibly important.  If you want to see any changes to your physique, you need proper rest and recovery.  You should strive for a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.  Should you fall short, it could dramatically stall your progress.   

    Make sleep a priority and change around your schedule to allow for proper rest if you truly want to increase muscle mass.