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4 Healthy Shake Boosters You’re Not Using

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It’s easy to fall into a rut in your lifting routine, and the same is true for your protein shakes. If you’ve been using the same tired boosters in your shake and not seeing results, there’s a good reason for it. Protein powders are formulated to deliver the ideal ratio of macronutrients after a workout, but they don’t always focus on the micronutrients.

Why does it matter? Micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are essential to muscle growth and repair. Post-workout nutrition is an opportunity to feed your muscles exactly what they need quickly and deliver otherwise hard-to-get nutrients in a convenient shake. If you know what to add to your protein powder, you can customize your shake to give your body exactly what it needs.

Here’s a list of the top protein shake additions that you’re probably not using, and why you should start adding them today.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric has long been used in traditional medicine for its purported anti-inflammatory properties, and in modern times it has graced the pages of many a health-themed Instagram feed.

The primary active component of turmeric is curcumin, which studies indicate may help suppress the factors that lead to inflammation.[1] Though this bright yellow spice appears in many traditional Southeast Asian dishes, the doses needed to produce any significant effect are much higher than would be found in a single meal and can only be obtained through supplementation.

To boost your shake, add 1/2-1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and a pinch of black pepper prior to blending. The piperine in the black pepper helps make the curcumin more bioavailable.

Thinking outside the shaker, you could also try this delicious turmeric latte recipe—the perfect way to help your body recover faster after a workout and use up your cold leftover coffee.

Turmeric

Turmeric Latte

Want to get more out of your morning cup of joe? This recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover coffee and give your body a healthy boost. Turmeric contains compounds that have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, while the maca powder is a natural energy booster. Almond milk provides a dairy-free base, but you can substitute your milk of choice.

View Recipe Here

2. Baobab Fruit

The fruit of the baobab tree is commonly eaten in Africa and Australia and has a citrus-like flavor. It is high in vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and its leaves are rich in calcium and protein. Even the seeds are loaded with fat and healthy fiber, and powdered forms of this potent plant are available around the world.

Baobab fruit is associated with many health benefits. For one thing, it aides weight loss by promoting feelings of fullness and helping to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.[2] Its potential benefits make this southern-hemisphere treat a perfect booster to your weight-loss shake. Just add a scoop of baobab powder to your protein shake, or if you prefer, try the recipe below.

Baobab

Carrot-Orange Baobab Drink

Loaded with antioxidants, this simple bright-orange drink is bursting with nutrients and flavor. Baobab powder has more antioxidants per serving than blueberries, acai, and goji, and carrots and oranges are great sources of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Fresh ginger helps with digestion in addition to adding a zing to this flavorful four-ingredient drink. If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a high-powered blender and strain with a cheesecloth.

View Recipe Here

3. Plant-Based Omega-3s

While health experts have touted the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for years, we don’t often discuss the different sources of this supplement. Fish oil has become all but synonymous with omega-3s, but the plant-based versions may actually be easier to incorporate into your diet.

Flaxseed is 42 percent fat, and most of that comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, a precursor of omega-3 fatty acids. ALA has many potential health benefits, specifically the ability to reduce blood triglycerides and reduce the inflammatory response, both of which help fight heart disease. Unlike its fishy counterpart, flaxseed also offers a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Since all the goodness is inside the seed, add 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil to your shake instead of whole seed. If you’d rather chew your omegas, check out the slow-cooker superfood protein bars below.

Seeds

Slow-Cooker Superfood Protein Bars

Flaxseed is a fantastic healthy addition to any baked good, providing extra fiber, nutrients, and healthy fats. These homemade bars take it to the next level by combining ground flaxseed with cashew butter, oats, and plant protein to create a delicious, chewy, gluten-free high-protein snack. Add the extra flavor and superfood punch of blueberries, cacao nibs, and cinnamon, and you’ve got yourself a healthy on-the-go treat to fuel your body and help you hit your goals.

View Recipe Here

4. Prebiotics

Prebiotics are a type fiber that the human body cannot digest. They are food for probiotics—hence the name. Since probiotics support healthy gut bacteria, including prebiotics in your diet is the key to better gut health.

Whole-food sources of prebiotics include dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apples, wheat bran, and cocoa. While some sources of prebiotics make more sense in a salad than a shake, adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder is an easy and delicious way to boost the prebiotics in your smoothie and feed the good bacteria in your gut. If you’d rather have a warm cup of cocoa, give this PBfit hot chocolate recipe a try.

Cacao Powder

PBFit Hot Chocolate

While some sources of prebiotics make more sense in a salad than a shake, adding a tablespoon of cocoa powder is an easy and delicious way to boost the prebiotics in your smoothie and feed the good bacteria in your gut. If you’d rather have a warm cup of cocoa, give this PBfit hot chocolate recipe a try.

View Recipe Here

References
  1. Takada, Y., Bhardwaj, A., Potdar, P., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2004). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-κ B activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene, 23(57), 9247-9258.
  2. Coe, S., & Ryan, L. (2016). White bread enriched with polyphenol extracts shows no effect on glycemic response or satiety yet may increase postprandial insulin economy in healthy participants. Nutrition Research, 36(2), 193-200.

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HEALTH

The 4 Things I Did to Get Better at Push-Ups

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Athletic woman exercising push-ups
My workout determination has gotten me through burpee after burpee, demanding at-home fitness programs, half-marathons, and speedy swim intervals. But, my will power has historically disappeared the minute push-ups were in the picture. For as long as I can remember, it’s been the one move that’s challenged me both mentally and physically to the point of surrender.

In all honesty, the main reason for that is because I couldn’t do a proper push-up — either my hips were too high, my arms were too wild, or I couldn’t manage to hover down low enough. The more at-home strength classes I took, though, the more push-ups popped up, so I told myself it was time to face the music and at least try to improve my performance.

Four months into my goal, I can see so much progress in my abilities. I may not be able to drop down and give you 20 (or even 10) perfect push-ups, but now I can slowly conquer five, and I owe it all to perseverance and the tiny tweaks in my routine ahead.

I Embraced Modifications

Dropping to my knees used to make me feel like a failure, so I would refuse to do it. Well, what followed was really bad form, and therefore, a totally ineffective move. Finally taking my virtual workout instructors’ advice and embracing modifications, I started dropping to my knees or performed the move at an incline, so that I could lower all the way to the ground and maintain core engagement, as well as the correct arm position. I actually felt my triceps and abs kicking into gear!

I Started Small

After a while of exclusively performing knee push-ups, I started working in one or two full push-ups into sets to test my progress. I knew I wasn’t ready for an entire set of full push-ups, but thanks to my commitment to modifications and the hard work I was putting in, I could at least conquer two or three. Starting small with my push-up goals also helped me prevent unnecessary injuries that could have been caused by pushing myself too hard.

I Watched a TON of Videos

When you’re working out at home — and don’t have access to gym mirrors — it’s a little difficult to know you’re lacking form. To have a better understanding of what portion of the move I needed to concentrate on, I set up my phone and filmed myself doing push-ups. After checking out my form, I made it a point to study my instructors’ push-ups during workouts, as well as other fitness instructors on Instagram.

I Kicked Up Strength Training

Adding more core and words you wanna link upper-body workouts into my fitness routine helped me strengthen my body, so it was better capable of tackling the notoriously difficult move. Not only do I see a difference in the tone of my arms, but I also experience less muscle shakes as I lift my body back up to the plank position of a push-up. Now that my core is stronger, I am able to hold my entire body strong (no more hip sags!) as I lower down to the ground, too.

Click here for more health and wellness stories, tips, and news.

Image Source: Getty Images / agrobacter



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HEALTH

4 Yoga Strap Stretches to Increase Your Flexibility

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Young woman practicing iyengar yoga at home in her living room.

I can admit that I’m not consistent with attending yoga classes. But, there is one yoga tool I’m committed to using just about every day: my stretching strap.

Whether you want to increase your flexibility, maintain your bend, relieve tension, or just take the edge off, adding 10 to 20 minutes of yoga strap stretching time into your self-care routine is a small way to feel really good.

This tool checks off all the boxes: it’s inexpensive (they can go for as low as £8 on Amazon) and requires minimum storage space, as well as the smallest amount of effort. Plus, it’s keeping my body warm and limber for the day I’m ready to step back in the yoga studio.

Chances are you’re already in your trusty yoga pants, so why not grab a strap and give these moves a try during your next Netflix marathon? Courtney Johnson, ACE CPT, a YogaFit Certified instructor, curated them to help me relax and unwind after a long day, and I hope they’ll do the trick for you, too.

Reclined Leg Stretch For Hamstrings and Lower Back

  • Lay down on your back — if you have lower back pain, bend your knees.
  • Place the middle of the yoga strap underneath the ball of your right foot.
  • Straighten your right leg and gently use the strap to pull your leg toward your body.
  • As you exhale, aim to reach or work up to a 90-degree angle for an ideal range of motion.
  • Hold at a place that feels slightly uncomfortable — but not painful — for 30 seconds if you are a beginner. If you have been stretching consistently, hold up to 60 seconds.
  • Make sure to breathe as you hold the position.
  • Exhale and release your right leg. Switch to the left side.
  • Repeat each side three to five times.
  • Reclined Open-Leg Stretch With Supine Twist For Hips

  • Lay down on your back.
  • Place the middle of the yoga strap underneath the ball of your right foot.
  • Straighten your right leg, and gently use the strap to pull your leg toward your body.
  • As you exhale, aim to reach or work up to a 90-degree angle for an ideal range of motion.
  • Grab the yoga strap with right hand, placing your left arm straight out for balance.
  • Keeping your left shoulder and hip down, open your right leg to the right side on your next exhale
  • Hold at a place that feels slightly uncomfortable — but not painful — for 30 seconds if you are a beginner. If you have been stretching consistently, hold up to 60 seconds.
  • Make sure to breathe as you hold the position.
  • Exhale and bring your leg back to the centre and cross it over to the left side of your body, keeping your right shoulder down.
  • Release your right leg back to centre. Switch to the left side.
  • Repeat each side three to five times.
  • Dancer Pose For Quadriceps

  • Make a loop at the end of your yoga strap.
  • Stand close to a wall for support, and place your right foot into the loop.
  • Bring your leg backward, and hold the strap overhead.
  • Gently walk your hands down the strap making the distance between your foot and hands shorter.
  • Continue to breathe and maintain core stability.
  • Once you reach a good stretching point, hold for 30 seconds.
  • Exhale and release your right leg. Switch sides, and repeat on the left.
  • Stretch each side two to three times.
  • Arm Circles For Shoulders

  • Hold the yoga strap with both hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart — palms facing down.
  • Keeping your arms straight, bring the strap overhead and back, opening the chest — palms now facing up.
  • Bring the strap back forward, inhaling and exhaling as you slowly repeat the motion.
  • Move through this position for five breaths, holding at the back for five to 10 seconds.
  • Image Source: Getty / filmstudio



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    FOOD

    4 Simple Watermelon Side Dish Ideas

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    It’s almost the end of summer. Watermelon is cheap and at its peak of deliciousness, so when you see a ginormous watermelon at the farmers market for $4, you buy it. And then you realize that you have a LOT of watermelon on your hands. What are you going to do with it?

    (Oh, and by you, I mean me. That was me that bought the ginormous watermelon.)

    Well, here’s your answer: 4 simple watermelon side dish ideas. They’re healthy and easy too!

    Kalamata Olives & Basil

    Watermelon with Kalamata Olives & BasilOkay, I know most people would be inclined to add feta to this. Well, I don’t like feta! Toss some cubed watermelon with fresh basil leaves and some halved kalamata olives. If you’re a fan of sweet-and-salty, you will love this salad.

    Mint & Lime Juice

    Watermelon with Mint & Lime JuiceSqueeze fresh lime juice over watermelon slices and sprinkle with coarsely chopped mint leaves and a few pinches of sea salt. Watermelon slices never tasted so good!

    Cilantro & Jalapeno

    Watermelon with Cilantro & JalapenoThe perfect side dish for taco night! Seed and mince a jalapeno and chop some cilantro, then toss it with cubed watermelon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a dash of salt (I used black sea salt, in case you were wondering what those little black flecks are in the photo).

    Ginger Syrup & Lime Zest

    Watermelon with Ginger Syrup & Lime ZestIs your watermelon a wee bit under-ripe? It’s okay! You can fix that! Combine 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and a 2-inch piece of ginger (peeled and sliced into coins) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Once mixture has come to room temperature, pour it through a fine mesh strainer over about 6 cups of cubed watermelon. Stir in zest from one lime and serve.

    What’s your favorite way to serve watermelon?

    About

    Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies.



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    HEALTH

    4 Tips That Will Make Tackling Your To Do List Way Less Stressful

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    4 Tips That Will Make Tackling Your To Do List Way Less Stressful – Health

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    4 Ways Technology Is Injuring Your Body

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    4 Ways Technology Is Injuring Your Body – Health

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    NEWS

    Nike Reveal The Zoom Vaporfly 4% Flyknit And Zoom Fly Flyknit Running Shoes

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    The Vaporfly 4% has become a much-coveted marathon shoe since Nike’s elite athletes started tearing up the World Marathon Majors in them. The ZoomX foam and carbon-fibre plate are responsible for a (claimed) 4% improvement in running economy, making it easier to run faster for longer.

    Last week, Nike announced a new version with a Flyknit upper (pictured above). This makes the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit lighter than its predecessor, and the knitted upper is more breathable and comfortable as well.

    Before we get too carried away, it’s probably best for us to throw a bucket of cold water on proceedings. The odds are slim that you’re going to be on the start line of your next big race wearing the new Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Flyknit – like the first iteration of the Vaporfly, these shoes will probably only be available in very limited amounts and at a very steep price. The first iteration costs an eye-watering £199.95 when it is in stock, so you’ll probably need to have luck and plenty of spending money on your side to get the Flyknit version. Nike is running a competition on the Nike+ Run Club app offering a chance at early access on 7th September ahead of the 1st October general release in Europe – if you run the equivalent of a marathon over ten days.

    All the same, there are reasons to be excited because Nike has also updated the more accessible Zoom Fly to make it a faster, more durable shoe.

    Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit

    The Zoom Fly Flyknit will get the same knitted upper and the full carbon-fibre plate used in the 4%, instead of the carbon-infused nylon plate it had previously. The Zoom Fly doesn’t use the ZoomX foam that’s in the 4% and the new Pegasus Turbo, but it will have Nike’s React foam in the new version. This is durable (especially compared with the relatively short shelf life of the ZoomX), light and bouncy.

    The previous Zoom Fly was a great shoe and we loved the Epic React too, so a combination of both with the full carbon-fibre plate should be a running shoe that can take both training and racing in its bouncy stride. Plus, the Zoom Fly Flyknit should be more widely available and far cheaper than the 4%, with the previous version costing £129.95. It’s set to be released on 13th September on the Nike website.

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    NUTRITION

    4 Reasons Why You Should Be Intermittent Fasting

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    “Intermittent fasting” refers to periods of fasting followed by periods of feeding. The typical daily intermittent fasting diet—and the one that I follow—is called a 16:8, where you’re basically fasting for 16 hours of the day, and eating for only eight hours.

    We already have periods of fasting in our normal lives as a result of our daily sleeping patterns. The reason it’s called “breakfast” is because you fast while you sleep and break your fast with the first meal you eat when you wake up.

    Most people fast for about 12 hours and eat for about 12 hours. By simply extending that fasting window by a few more hours, so that you’re fasting for 16 hours and eating only for eight, you’ll derive many of the benefits of intermittent fasting that are lacking with normal eating schedules.

    Benefit 1: Greater Fat Loss

    Research I was a part of at Yale University School of Medicine showed that—contrary to popular belief—your metabolic rate increases when you follow intermittent fasting. This ups the number of calories your body burns in a day. The way intermittent fasting does this is by supporting gene activity. Fasting turns on genes, which in turn produce proteins that make the body less efficient. While this may sound like a bad thing, it is actually very beneficial for fat loss.[1]

    4 Reasons Why You Should Be Intermittent Fasting

    Lowered efficiency means your body has to burn more fat and more carbs in order to complete your normal daily activities. Combine intermittent fasting with high-intensity exercise, such as weightlifting or intervals, and you have the perfect plan for efficient fat loss while still maintaining lean body mass.

    Benefit 2: Improved Health

    Research shows that intermittent fasting supports immune function, which means you’ll be less likely to get sick and need to skip days in the gym. Other studies also show that intermittent fasting promotes normal insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular health![2]

    Put simply, intermittent fasting can keep you from getting sick, improve your metabolism, and make it easier for your body to recover after a workout.

    Benefit 3: Helps Fight Jet Lag

    Believe it or not, intermittent fasting can help fight jet lag. Research shows if you fast for at least 16 hours, it helps to erase what’s called our “food clock.”

    Our bodies work on a 24-hour clock based on light cues. This clock helps to signal when it’s time to eat or sleep, which is why we naturally become drowsy when it gets dark and more alert when it is light. When you change time zones, your body clock must adjust to the change in cues, which is why you can feel tired and “off” when you travel to a new time zone.

    But light isn’t the only signal your body uses to set these patterns. There are a variety of other cues throughout the day to help program your body clock, and one of them is eating.

    4 Reasons Why You Should Be Intermittent Fasting

    When you fast, you sort of reset your body’s internal clock, since it doesn’t have the eating cues to go off of. If you then cue your body by eating at the same time of day when you’d normally break your fast—but do it in the new time zone—your body adjusts much faster and your jet lag symptoms are less noticeable.

    Benefit 4: Convenience

    When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to make breakfast, I don’t have to prep food for my lunch—I really don’t have to even think about food until 4 p.m.!

    There’s also another side to the convenience of intermittent fasting: When 4 p.m. does finally roll around, I don’t have to worry so much about what I eat because intermittent fasting allows you to have a much more flexible diet.

    I’m on the road nearly constantly, yet I do zero food prep. I can eat at restaurants and still maintain a photoshoot-ready physique, thanks to intermittent fasting.

    Intermittent fasting works well for me because it addresses all of my needs. It helps improve fat loss and health, fights jet lag, and it is very convenient. And those four reasons are why you—and really everyone—should be intermittent fasting.

    Visit JimStoppani.com for more workouts, training tips, and articles on nutrition and supplementation.

    References
    1. Hildebrandt, A. L., & Neufer, P. D. (2000). Exercise attenuates the fasting-induced transcriptional activation of metabolic genes in skeletal muscle. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 278(6), E1078-E1086.
    2. Mattson, M. P., & Wan, R. (2005). Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 16(3), 129-137.

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    4 Signs You Should See Another Doctor for a Second Opinion

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    4 Essential Foods For Budget Bulking

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    Once upon a time, when I was smaller than I am now but looking to get as big as possible, I lived off of tuna and potatoes almost exclusively for a period of years. That, plus a scoop of protein powder in my morning cereal, was my muscle-building master plan.

    Did it work? Sure, to a certain degree. But today, I know that’s not the only way to split your sleeves without breaking the bank.

    When I get asked by aspiring bodybuilders how to grow without dough—which is pretty much every single day—here’s what I tell them to put in their shopping carts.

    1. Oatmeal

    Oatmeal is a staple food, and for good reason. You can buy it in bulk at any big supermarket—that much you know. Oatmeal can go in pretty much every meal, it’s easy to travel with, and it plays nicely with both protein and fat sources.

    Oatmeal

    For example, you can mix oats with eggs or egg whites, which is a classic bodybuilder meal. If growth is the goal, though, make sure you use whole eggs. Why? The yolks bring plenty of healthy fats and more calories, both of which you need to add muscle mass.

    Personally, I also like to mix oatmeal with some casein. I’ll put it in a blender or shaker cold, or I’ll cook the oats first, and then add a scoop of casein to it. Voila, there’s a meal.

    If you’re looking for one more thing to add to this muscle-building treat, make it nut butters. Like egg yolks, these are a great source of healthy fats to help support hormone production, and to push you into the calorie surplus you need to build muscle. Almond butter, peanut butter, or just plain nuts like cashews or hazelnuts—they all work.

    2. Rice cakes

    People tend to associate rice cakes with wanting to lose weight, but they’re a great not-so-secret weapon that bodybuilders have been using to grow for decades. They’re a simple, clean, and easy to get source of calories that pairs well with other great growth foods.

    Rice Cakes

    Here’s the perfect combo to put on a rice cake: more nut butter—I’m obviously a big fan—and natural fruit jams or preserves. Don’t go full cheapo on the jam, since there are some that are pure processed junk. It should contain as much fruit as possible, and just a little sugar.

    You may think that almond butter or other nut butters don’t qualify as “budget” foods, but since they pretty much last forever, you can buy in bulk and use it over time. Look for deals, shop the Costcos of the world, and stock up.

    Get this combo right, and you’ll get plenty of healthy fats, nutrient-rich fruit, and just enough healthy, natural sugars to power your workouts and keep your carb stores up where they should be.

    3. Canned fish

    As I said earlier, tuna is what I used to live on, and it’s a staple food I still recommend today. But you can overdo it, and there is some fear of mercury levels.

    The answer isn’t to avoid it, but rather to make it just one of the canned fish you eat. You can’t go wrong with canned salmon, especially wild caught, since it’s another great source of healthy fats. Both white albacore and chunk light tuna, which is usually made from a smaller fish named skipjack (smaller means less mercury risk), are also solid options.

    Canned fish

    That, plus some potatoes or rice, and you’ve got a meal you can grow on. Even better, you could add some salad greens in there, along with low-calorie sauces like hot sauces and mustard or soy sauce.

    Here’s another idea: Cook some rice or egg noodles, then fry them lightly in a bit of coconut oil. Crack in a couple of whole eggs and stir-fry the whole thing until the eggs are cooked. Let it cool, then add the canned fish when it’s time to eat.

    One other advantage of egg noodles? They’re actually really tasty. That matters! Remember, to grow you’ll need to eat a lot. Making good-tasting food can only make that easier.

    4. Dried fruit and nuts

    Sure, these are technically two foods, but together, they make one hell of a snack. Remember: meals aren’t all you need to grow. You need snacks, too!

    Dried fruit and nuts

    Back in the day when I was just an up-and-coming trainer looking to add mass, I’d carry a fanny pack, or bum bag, full of nuts and dried fruit to snack on between meeting with clients. I’d probably sneak a few during the session, too.

    Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews will all give you extra calories to help you keep in a surplus. But avoid the sugary versions. Raw is best, since you know exactly what you’re taking in.

    Buy them in bulk, keep them with you at all times, and train hard, and you’ll be primed for growth!

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