One of the really critical lessons I’ve been learning in my journey to make SURE I maintain proper self-care is this: NUTRITION IS EVERYTHING. I mean, high impact training is amazing but if I’m missing ANYTHING (enough sleep, taking my synthroid, having a proper meal before), I will lag. AND of all THOSE things, having enough protein to sustain my workout is the MOST important.
While I’m still working out the kinks on what that looks for helping to heal my daughter’s gut issues, it’s also imperative that *I* maintain good nutrition as well. I tend to get lost in the shuffle and eat whatever. My husband, too, struggles with what to eat and will often buy food or snacks that are not-so-healthy.
And when we do our incredible boot camp workouts at SoldierFit, we get HUNGRY, so hungry it quickly flips to HANGRY! Not only that, but your body needs protein to repair and recharge. Sometimes, the meal after your workout is just plain not enough and that can lead to overeating things that are heavy, dense, fattening – and blow that amazing Crossfit or HIIT workout you just had!
Protein, Amino Acids, and Making the Most of Your Workout
It’s at times like these, as well as days I need a protein boost BEFORE the gym, that I often turn to a quality protein powder. I’ve tried a few – and, tastewise, have liked a few! But what I really need in a great protein powder is NOT JUST protein, but a good helping of amino acids.
So what are amino acids? According to Livestrong, they are the building blocks of protein. There are 9 essential amino acids (EAAs). When you hear the word “essential” regarding nutrition, it means your body can’t make it. There are also nonessential amino acids, but I won’t cover those here. (By the way, don’t discount the value of eating “nonessential” nutrients too, but that’ll be a WHOLE other blog post…)
Of those 9 EAAs, 3 are called branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs. According to Bodybuilding.com, these amino acids:
- Support your body in building proteins
- Improve your workouts
- Ultimately help you build muscle
Pretty cool, eh? Macro nutrition is so interesting!
Anyway, there are actually reasons to take BCAAs before a workout, and reasons to take them after (around 30 minutes later). How they help:
Before a workout…
A 2017 review of peer-reviewed research found that they are beneficial for recovery. Other studies show they reduce muscle soreness induced by exercise and may help improve strength after a workout. They also may help with endurance.
After a workout…
Because BCAAs can help with muscle recovery, some sources advise taking them after a workout, within 30-60 minutes. That said, many sources said you can take them either before or after, or both!
NOTE: Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider before adding any supplements to your diet.
How To Take BCAAs
Now, you can get BCAAs in your meals, provided you eat properly most of the time. You can find them in beef, poultry, and lots of seafood. (ALWAYS clean-source these foods: grass-fed beef, organic or pastured poultry, MSC-certified seafood). They’re also found in eggs and roasted peanuts. Of course, that means that you’re not vegan, vegetarian, or allergic to eggs and peanuts.
And if you are doing regular and frequent high impact workouts, you might be a bit deficient in BCAAs. So, can you supplement it? I’m not a big fan of supplements myself, but I am fond of protein shakes. For busy moms like me, this is a great way to feel confident that you are getting healthy nutrition to support your workout on even the busiest days!
There are a ton of companies that sell protein powders so you want to make sure you know what to look for. This is what I look for in a protein shake:
- grass-fed if using whey
- no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors
- low sugar content
- no growth hormones
- bleach and acid-free processing
- low sugar content (not using actual sugar, if possible)
- no hormones in the dairy
And, of course, GREAT TASTE!
Naked Nutrition To The Rescue
When Naked Nutrition reached out to me with samples of their product, I had to say! I had tried other protein powders and so many of them fell short. Either they were:
- not nutrient-dense enough to satisfy me
- did nothing for my recovery
- didn’t foam up properly or left me with a watery drink
- didn’t taste good
- and, on one occasion, completely detoxed me EVERY TIME (if you take my meaning)…UM, no thank you!
Naked Nutrition had SO many delicious protein powder options that it was hard to choose but I selected these. (NOTE: My affiliate links follow.)
As I searched the site, I saw that their product checked off all my boxes! I eagerly awaited my shipment to try and I was NOT disappointed. This product does have a bit of sweetener but only coconut sugar – a top choice of sweetener in my book. One of my favorite things about this powder is that it froths up JUST like a chocolate shake and is every bit as satisfying. It’s not overwhelming so you can add things, like banana or a little peanut butter, to get a great flavor boost.
Please note that Naked Nutrition also carries dairy-free and vegan protein powders as well!
At the time, I had been seeking a great collagen powder as well. There’d been I’d taken in the past but I wasn’t sure I’d seen great results. If you’re wondering what collagen is good for, according to Healthline, it’s “one of the most abundant proteins in your body.” It can contribute to the health of your skin, bones, cartilage, hair, nails and more. Read the entire article to learn about the numerous scientific studies on collagen.
For a collagen powder, I have the same non-toxic requirements. AND if I can find one that I can just add to my coffee when I’m half asleep in the morning, yay! Naked Collagen provided all those requirements and is also Paleo and Keto friendly. It seamlessly melts in my morning coffee every day and the container REALLY lasts! I feel confident the drinks are doing their job and are helping me maintain my rigorous workout schedule (6 boot camps last week PLUS an additional strength workout because we’re doing an all-gym challenge!)
As a busy autism mama, getting fit was one of the BEST things I’ve ever done for myself. And Naked Nutrition helps me stay fit, achieve my goals, and have energy for the most important thing in my life: my family.