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How to achieve Instagram-worthy glutes and abs at any age

Do you constantly see fit physiques on your social media feed? Do you ever wonder what it takes to achieve Instagram-worthy glutes and abs? If so, you’re not alone. With summer right around the corner, we all want to look our best whether we’re at the pool, on the beach or on a patio. And with the #fitspo hashtag taking over both Instagram and Tik Tok, it’s hard not to be influenced or inspired. With that said, we thought it would be a good idea to come clean on what it takes to achieve Instagram-worthy glutes and abs at any age.
Here’s what we know: 

Your genetics play a role

You would be surprised to learn that your ability to achieve a perky round butt and chiseled abs has a lot to do with your genetics. You can definitely make improvements, but you need to be realistic. Basically, you can thank your parents for the shape of your glutes! Also, not everyone is able to achieve a six-pack of abs. With that said, there is always room for improvement with some hard work, discipline and the right plan. 

You must eat!

To add muscle to your glutes, you need to eat a surplus of calories and ensure you are getting enough protein (based on your body weight). Calories should come from nutrient dense sources to avoid gaining body fat. Also, you will want to increase calories slowly. 

When it comes to abdominals, they’re definitely made in the kitchen. A diet that is high in protein and low in sugar, alcohol and unhealthy fats is key. You may even need to drop carbs altogether. This really depends on your body type and metabolism.

Lift weights
To build muscle in any area, you must do resistance training. If you want to increase the size of your glutes (for example), start with 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps and focus on doing a minimum of two leg/glute workouts per week. Whatever area you want to grow, you must focus on. Incorporate compound movements such as: squats, lunges, bridges, hip thrusts and deadlifts. Also, don’t forget your hamstrings. They attach at various points near the glutes, so it’s important to work them as well. Do exercises such as stiff legged deadlifts, good mornings, hamstring ball roll ins, lying leg curls and seated leg curls. 

Abs are made in the kitchen

When it comes to getting abs or a flat stomach, you must pay close attention to what you’re eating. Start with an elimination diet by avoiding gluten, wheat, sugar, alcohol and dairy to get a baseline. These foods are inflammatory so they could prevent you from seeing your six-pack. Slowly integrate low-glycemic carbs back into your diet and see how you look and feel. Some examples include: vegetables, oats, brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes. 

Also, make sure to include protein in every meal and eat every 3-4 hours.  This will help you to stay full longer and build/maintain muscle mass. Drink plenty of water (2-3 litres) per day to prevent water retention/bloating. You may want to try fasting and nutritional cleansing to accelerate results. Also, watch your sodium intake and make sure you are getting enough fibre so that you are eliminating properly. 

Vary up your equipment

To further isolate your glutes and make workouts more fun, you can add a booty band. The rubber bands work well around your ankles and the thicker fabric loop bands are great for above the knees as they don’t roll up. They come in different strengths/levels of resistance. We love these ones!

Engage your core

Focus on engaging your core while working other muscle groups. To strengthen all parts of your abdominals, include: leg lowers, crunches, planks and twisting movements. To increase intensity, add resistance. 

Hire a coach

To achieve the best results, you must push yourself, execute proper technique, and perhaps, hire a coach for accountability. It can be helpful to work with a qualified trainer to get past a plateau or to get a customized plan based on your specific goals. It’s important to change up what you’re doing often to keep your body progressing. If you need some guidance, check out http://www.laurajacksonfitness.com

Use cardio with caution

Adding in 20-30 minutes of cardio daily (preferably in the a.m. on an empty stomach) can accelerate fat loss. But use this strategy with caution. If you do too much cardio and you don’t lift weights or eat enough protein, it can have the opposite effect. Your body adapts to cardio quickly, which means you have to do more of it to achieve the same result. Plus, you may lose some of your hard earned muscle. Here’s a tip: mix steady state cardio with hiit workouts to prevent a plateau and rev up your metabolism.

It’s important to know there’s no such thing as spot reduction. So the best advice is to follow a clean diet, workout 5-6 days per week and eventually you should lose the fluff and achieve perkier glutes and a nice stomach.

What Is The Meaning Of Confidence and How Do We Get More Of It?

Confidence seems to be one of those things that so many of us are searching for. Yet, have you ever stopped and actually thought about what it is? We did! We wanted to know: “what is the meaning of confidence and how do we get more of it?”

During our weekly friend chat (when we geek out on all things personal development), Laura Jackson (Publisher and Chief Editor of DB+HH) and I found ourselves diving deep into understanding what confidence means at its core. And once we started digging, we became totally obsessed! In fact, we became so fascinated with what we found that we began writing blog posts and creating workshops just so we could share our insights.

And just like that, “The ‘Real’ Confidence Project” was born. Now we’re on a mission to
help ambitious professionals optimize their confidence and become the best version of themselves both inside and out.

So… what did we learn about confidence that launched us on this journey? Here it is in a nutshell:

What is the meaning of confidence?

We started with a good old google search. Interestingly enough we learned the term “confidence” comes from the latin word fidere, which means “to trust”. Therefore, having confidence is all about having trust. When you have confidence in another person, it means you trust them. And when you have self-confidence, you have trust in yourself.
Next we dove a little deeper into understanding how we can better trust ourselves?
We discovered there are two key components:

1) An inner knowing about who you are and the value you provide to the world
2) Belief that you are capable of achieving success (no matter what that looks like to you).

So having confidence and trusting yourself requires a belief in who you are, knowing your value/worth and your capabilities. To narrow it down even further, we discovered that self-confidence is the ability to trust in yourself, and that trust stems from the beliefs we hold about ourselves.

BOOM! It makes perfect sense, right?

How your beliefs affect your confidence

Many of the beliefs we hold about ourselves form during childhood and are based on culture, family dynamics, relationships and experiences. In fact, they are so ingrained in who we are that we typically aren’t even conscious of them.

Through intensive research and personal reflection, we came to the realization that our beliefs actually shape our lives.

So you may be wondering what this all means and why it matters?

Basically, what we believe about ourselves and the world around us is also what we attract. So in theory, if you believe good things about yourself, you should attract good things into your life and vice versa. This is based on the law of attraction.

When we feel stuck unfulfilled or unhappy, we can usually relate it back to what we call our ‘limiting beliefs’. Ultimately these are what hold us back from being our authentic selves and achieving what we want in life. Once we get conscious about the limiting beliefs that are blocking us, we can work on replacing them with beliefs that empower us.

The good news is that we can change our beliefs about who we are and what we can accomplish right now! The first step is to get conscious about them.

So you might be wondering where to begin? How do we become conscious of the beliefs about ourselves?

Try these confidence-boosting strategies:

Through our own transformation journeys, Laura and I discovered there are a few ways. But here’s a great place to start:

  1. Set a re-occurring reminder in your calendar for 3 times a day that reads, “How do I feel?”. When you receive these reminders throughout the day, stop for a minute and take note of how you feel. It’s ok to name and feel your emotions as they come up. Ask yourself, why might I be feeling this way? Our emotions are there to give us information (if we listen). By practicing this strategy over time, you will start to uncover your limiting beliefs and open up the opportunity to change them.
  2. Write a list of a few disempowering beliefs you hold about yourself. Next, try crossing them out and replacing them with a more empowering belief. For example, when it comes to health and fitness you may believe it’s hard and that you are destined to be overweight due to poor genetics. This is a limiting belief that you can change right now! Instead, you could say “Exercise is challenging but I can start slow with 20 minutes a day and aim to lose 1-2 lbs per week.”

    See how easy that was? Now it’s your turn!

    Ready to dive deeper into The ‘Real’ Confidence Project? We encourage and invite you to come on this journey with us. Subscribe now to get notified about other articles and strategies to help optimize your confidence.

The Fat-Burning Habits You May Already Have (Without Even Knowing)

One of the most common “body goals” among our readers is fat loss. Now, we totally get that you may not be at your goal weight just yet. And that’s ok. In fact, we believe you should always go for progress over perfection anyway. With that said, we also think it’s important that we recognize what you may already be doing when it comes to achieving results. All too often we are told what we are doing wrong when in reality, there’s a lot we do right. In this article, we dive deep into the fat burning habits you’re likely already doing. If you’re curious to learn more what they are, we say keep reading!

1. You drink coffee

Did you know your morning cup of java and/or frequent trips to the coffee machine throughout the day may do more than perk you up? A recent study suggests caffeine is a fat burning habit that may also help to shrink your waistline.

Scientists from the Department of Physiology at the University of Granada (UGR) have shown that when caffeine is ingested half an hour before aerobic exercise (about 3 mg/kg or the equivalent of a strong coffee), the rate of fat-burning increases. And when exercise is performed in the afternoon, the effects are even greater.

The takeaway: your daily cup of java is doing more than waking you up in the morning or keeping you going during the mid-day slump.

2. You skip breakfast

There is plenty of research that suggests intermittent fasting can help with weight loss. In fact many people have jumped on this trend simply because they prefer to consume their calories later in the day. Some studies suggest that if you choose to skip breakfast and exercise on an empty stomach, you could accelerate fat loss.

According to a study from Northumbria University, you can burn up to 20 per cent more fat simply by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach.

The researchers asked 12 physically active male participants to perform a bout of treadmill exercise at 10 a.m. (either after breakfast or in a fasted state). Following the workout, participants were given a chocolate milkshake recovery drink. Later in the day, they were fed a pasta lunch, which they were asked to eat until they felt “comfortably full”. The researchers assessed the consumption of both energy and fat, while taking into account the amount of energy and fat that was burned during the morning period.

It’s important to note that those who exercised in the morning on a fasted stomach did not consume additional calories or experience an increase in appetite during the day.

They also found that the particpants who exercised before breakfast on an empty stomach burned almost 20 per cent more fat in comparison to those who ate breakfast before exercising. This means that performing a workout in a fasted state may provide the best outcome for fat loss.

Javier Gonzalez, who is currently undertaking a PhD in Exercise and Metabolism, says: “In order to lose body fat we need to use more fat than we consume. Exercise increases the total amount of energy we expend and a greater proportion of this energy comes from existing fat (if the exercise is performed after an overnight fast).

In a separate study, researchers discovered that whole body fat burning was reduced by 50 per cent after a meal (when compared to exercising in a fasted state).

3. You lift weights

Lifting weights is one of the best ways to speed up your metabolism; especially if you focus on incorporating large muscle groups (such as squats, deadlifts and lunges). Compound movements typically burn more calories, giving you more bang for your buck. Another strategy is to constantly challenge yourself by increasing the weight, sets and reps. Also, if you pair an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise there is a greater fat burning effect. This is called PHA (Peripheral Heart Action). This technique, which has been around since the 1940s, allows one body part to rest while another is working, preventing fatigue and the build up of lactic acid. It also increases blood flow throughout the body, forcing the heart to work even harder.

We know this is awesome news for our readers who already lift weights. And it gets better! One of the best parts about resistance training is the “after burn”. This simply means your body will continue to burn calories long after the session has ended. Pretty fantastic, right?

4. You do HIIT

Bootcamp workouts, also known as HIIT training, have become very popular in the last few years. Basically, bootcamp-style workouts are super intense and require your whole body. As a result, this style of workout gets your heart rate elevated within minutes. HIIT typically requires very little equipment (aside from your own body weight), so there’s never an excuse not to workout. Plus you burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time. Although you can burn just as much energy doing a moderate workout, the time-saving benefits of HIIT cannot be matched.

This type of workout is especially beneficial if you have less than 30 minutes to exercise. Similar to resistance training, your body will continue to burn energy long after the workout is over (also known as EPOC). This occurs as a ways for your body to replenish oxygen to working muscles.

5. You eat avocados

Depending on your age, you probably remember the low fat craze? Well, we’re happy to report a lot has changed since that trend. In fact, a recent study suggests that if you want to decrease fat (especially in the abdomen), you should eat more avocados. Furthermore, fat plays a key role in so many hormonal and bodily functions. Therefore, skipping this satiating macronutrient could potentially set you up for fat-burning failure.

So go ahead — have that avocado toast! Just be mindful of portions. Although fats are healthy, they tend to contain a lot of calories — so a little goes a long way!

6. You go to bed early

Sleep is one of the best kept secrets when it comes to fat loss. Although it may sound simple, it’s definitely underrated. If you want to turn your body into a fat-burning machine you definitely need to get to bed early and aim for 7-8 hours per night. When you don’t get sufficient rest, you are more likely to make bad choices, like skip your workout or fill up on carb-laden and fast foods. Another recent study suggests that those who don’t get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night typically make poor snacking choices.

7. You ditch carbs at dinner

Eliminating carbs or reducing them at night is a strategy that could help to release stubborn body fat. This doesn’t mean you have to go keto; however, we recommend timing carbs around your workouts or try consuming them earlier in the day when your body needs them the most. You may have already cut them out of your dinner in exchange for healthy fats and low-glycemic veggies. If this is the case, you are on the right track!

Tip: If you get the nighttime munchies, opt for something that’s both healthy and satiating and includes either fats, protein or both Here are some of our favourites: Non-fat, greek yogurt (plain), a protein shake, a boiled egg, a handful of nuts or veggies and hummus.

These 5 Fall Fashion Trends Are Back For Another Season


With fall around the corner, you may be thinking about your wardrobe and how you will prepare for the cooler temperatures ahead. You may also be curious about which items you will need to replace and if you will be able to re-wear your favourite pieces. In this article, we uncover which 5 fall fashion trends are back for another season.

1) The Shacket

This perfect transitional piece made its initial appearance last fall. The “shacket” is in between a shirt and a jacket, making it a go-to wardrobe staple for cool fall mornings and/or nights. The shacket is extremely versatile and can easily freshen up your wardrobe by replacing either your leather jacket or denim jacket. You can wear it over a dress or skirt with booties; with a pair of leather joggers; with shorts, a tee and sneakers or with your favourite pair of denim. 

Shacket by Free People

2) Vegan Leather 

Vegan leather is still going strong. However, if you want to freshen up your wardrobe this fall, opt for a faux leather blazer, trench coat, moto jacket, a top, a pair of joggers or trousers, a midi skirt, a mini skirt, shorts or a dress. The best part about vegan leather is that it can be dressed up or down depending on the look. Pair with booties, heels, sneakers or loafers. 

Vegan Moto Jacket

3) Puff Sleeves & Balloon Sleeves

This trend has been around for some time and it’s still going strong. To add interesting detail to your outfit, opt for a puffed sleeve or balloon sleeve on dresses, blouses, blazers, sweatshirts, casual t-shirts, denim jackets and sweaters. This is a fun detail that enhances any outfit and brings attention up to your face. We love this season’s pouf sleeved blazer by Smythe. Classy with a fun, on-trend detail.

Fall 2021 Blazer by Smythe

4) Teddy Bear Coat & Faux Fur Coat 

Good news —- If you bought a teddy bear coat or a fur coat last fall, you can wear it again this season. The oversized coat trend is here to stay. If you are in the market for this fun style, there are many different options. When it comes to faux fur, saturated hues are big this fall. This is the ultimate statement piece that will easily transition you from fall to winter. 

Generation Love

5) Midi Skirts 

Although micro mini skirts are in style this fall, midi skirts are here to stay. This trend hits between the knee and calf and can be seen in vegan leather, silk or knit styles. We are also seeing midi skirts with slits up the side for an added cool factor. Pair your midi skirt with booties, a blouse tied at the front to show your waist, a leather Moto jacket for that cool factor or with a graphic t-shirt and sneakers for a casual daytime look.

Anti-Aging Skincare Hacks You Need To Know About


As we get older, our skin starts to change. We get wrinkles, dry patches, pigmentation and even breakouts. Overall, our skin loses its youthful glow and becomes dull in appearance, affecting how we feel about ourselves when we look in the mirror.

The good news is that there are ways to lessen the effects and slow down the aging process. But first we need to learn how our skin changes so that we can take preventative measures.

How our skin changes over time

  • The top skin layer (epidermis) becomes thinner and more fragile
  • Skin becomes drier due to less oil being produced
  • The number of blood vessels in your face and body decrease. Blood brings nutrients to your skin cells, giving your skin a healthy and rosy look.
  • Skin cells are repaired and replaced at a slower rate
  • The sun and pollution start to show their effects on skin by breaking down collagen and elastin, which give skin its elasticity.
  • Your good or bad diet starts to show it effects on your skin. Your bad diet did not provide the nutrients your skin needed to be flexible, hydrated, oxygenated and healthy.
  • The un-healthy skin products you have been using start to show their bad effects on your skin.

As you can see, skin health is dependent on many factors that are actually within our control. For example, the types of foods you eat; your exposure to the sun and pollution, along with the types of chemicals in your skincare products. Excessive exposure to the sun and pollution will damage your skin and accelerate aging by producing: age spots, blotches, wrinkles, roughness and sagging.

Want a youthful glow? Check out our top skin care hacks:

  • Use sunscreen every day – You can slow down wrinkle formation and even prevent it if you use sunscreen early in your life. Use sunscreen that contains Zinc Oxide (SPF 30 or above). If you wear makeup, put your sunscreen on first.
  • On hot days (and even when it is overcast) use your sunscreen and wear a hat. Stay in the shade when possible.
  • Keep away from highly polluted areas and don’t smoke. Smoking changes the elasticity of the skin fibers leading to rough and wrinkled skin.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Your skin repairs itself overnight.
  • When you sleep, don’t sleep with you face into the pillow.
  • Drink plenty of water. Your skin loses water during hot days and needs plenty of water to keep hydrated. Water is found in raw fruits and vegetables. Sodas, sugar drinks, tea, (except herbal teas) coffee, or milk are not water.
  • Minimize alcohol consumption. It can lead to spider veins and broken capillaries. It also causes your skin to become dehydrated.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. They provide plenty of antioxidants, which protect you from sun and pollution damage.
  • Take an antioxidant supplement, which should include up to 2000 mg of vitamin C. You may have to take the Vitamin C separate.

Start implementing these simple tips and you will definitely see improvement in your skin. Be patient and persistent and you will be rewarded with great skin!

The Best Foods To Eat To Fuel Your Workout

You won the battle over apathy. You have summonsed the willpower to get to the gym and push your body to its limit. Do yourself a favor, and make certain your body is properly fueled with an appropriate pre-workout snack. 

1. When to Eat? 

Timing is everything. Eat too soon and you will not receive the nutritional benefits of your pre-workout snack. Worse, undigested food will make you sluggish and tired. Tufts University recommends eating 30 minutes to 4 hours before you exercise. Calorie consumption is key though. You should stay between 50 and 100 calories if you are eating 30 minutes prior to a workout. When you have an hour before a workout, try to eat 100 to 200 calories. 2 hours or more prior to a workout, eat 200 to 300 calories. 

2. Carbohydrates or Protein? 

Carbohydrates are the fuel your muscles need to survive your workout. When you consume carbs, they are converted to glucose which is what your muscles need to keep you from feeling tired and weak. If you want to survive your exercise regimen, you are going to need to fuel up on carbohydrates. According to the International Society of Sport Nutrition (ISSN), the need for carbohydrates increases pre-workout if you avoid carbs early in the day or consume a low-carb diet. 

If you think you can skimp on protein, you are wrong. Compared to consuming carbohydrates alone, the ISSN recommends combining carbohydrates with protein which has proven to increase endurance performance. Over the course of your workout, your bodies muscles begin to breakdown. Consuming protein not only slows the breakdown of muscles, it helps muscles recover and grow. 

3. What about Fat? 

Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet. They are excellent for controlling hunger because they digest slowly. During a workout, you need your fuel to burn energy quickly. This is why carbohydrates, which quickly convert to glucose, are the fuel of choice for a pre-workout snack. For the best results, and to avoid feeling bloated, minimize your fat consumption in pre-workout meals. 

4. What to Eat? 

Examples of carbohydrates: 

Small Fruit (banana, apple, berries, etc.)



Whole-wheat bread

Rice cakes

Examples of proteins: 

Greek yogurt

Cottage cheese

Nuts/Seeds or Nut/Seed butter


Sliced meat

Protein powder

Have fun and be creative. Just remember to pick a carbohydrate and a protein. A quick and flavorful idea is an apple with almond butter. Greek yogurt is a star because it combines protein and carbs. Try adding a handful of granola and a touch of honey to Greek yogurt for a quick snack on the go. If you have access to a microwave, a hearty bowl of steel-cut oats with nuts and protein powder is a dynamite snack.

5 Common Myths About Fat Loss That May Be Holding You Back

Do you struggle when it comes to losing weight? Are you doing “all of the things”, yet you still aren’t getting results? We totally get it. And it can be so frustrating.

The good news is that we have some strategies you can implement right now to get you on track. In this article, we debunk 5 common myths about fat loss that may be holding you back.

1. All you need is 30 minutes of exercise per day

There is some truth to this; however, what this advice doesn’t tell you is how intense the activity should be and what it should entail. It’s important to be active and get those steps in, but if you’re not increasing your heart rate or pushing yourself, you likely won’t get results. To burn fat and build/sustain lean muscle, you must impose demands on your body through purposeful exercise. 

Hot Tip: Incorporate intervals and resistance training to increase the intensity of your workout and turn your body into a fat burning machine.

2. To lose weight you must remove carbs entirely

The debate over carbs is one that has been going on for a long time. And it definitely can work as a short term strategy to improve your sensitivity/tolerance to carbs, reverse insulin resistance, suppress hunger and burn stored fat. But going ultra low-carb comes at a hefty price: it’s not sustainable long-term and we need carbs to fuel our brains and to build muscle. 

Hot tip: Try timing carbs around your exercise (when your body needs them the most). Or, have them earlier in the day as opposed to late at night or before bedtime when you require less energy. You can also cycle them throughout the week. For example, try having more carbs on the days you require more energy and/or when you exercise. 

3. Fat loss is all about calories in and calories out

Yes — there is some truth to this for sure. If you aren’t in a caloric deficit, you won’t lose weight. But when it comes to body composition, you need to pay close attention to the foods you are eating. For example, if you don’t eat enough protein, you will lose muscle mass. So although you will lose weight, you won’t necessarily look better. You will simply become a smaller version of yourself. On the other hand, the more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. This means you will burn more calories at rest (even when you’re not working out). But if you tend to eat excessive amounts of sugar or refined carbs, your body will likely to store them as fat. 

Hot tip: Include plenty of lean proteins, low-glycemic carbs, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Watch out for hidden sugars in prepared foods such as yogurt, cereals, frozen meals, canned goods and packaged foods. The best way to avoid this is by preparing your meals and snacks from scratch. 

4. Do more cardiovascular exercise such as running, biking or the elliptical to elicit fat loss 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cardio will help you lose weight, but if you do too much, it will be at the expense of your hard earned muscle. And when you lose muscle, your metabolism will slow down and you will lose tone and definition. 

Hot tip: A combination of resistance training, cardio and a clean diet is the formula to improving your body composition. 

5. Consume less than 1,200 calories per day 

Did you know not eating enough can actually prevent weight loss? If you go below 1,200, your body will likely start to hold onto fat. Our bodies are very smart. They do what they can to prevent weight loss and starvation. So if you aren’t taking in enough calories to fuel your activity levels and support your body weight, you could slow down weight loss. But more importantly, it could be detrimental to your health. You need to make sure you are consuming enough calories to meet your body’s minimal daily requirements (also known as Basal Metabolic Rate).

Hot Tip: Use a calorie calculator or food tracking app to determine your daily caloric needs. This is different for everyone. For example, if you have a physical job or you exercise daily, you would require more calories than someone who is less active. You should aim to lose 1-2 lbs per week.

Go ahead and have that bedtime snack

For the longest time we’ve been told not to eat at night. But according to research, having a protein-rich snack prior to going to sleep may offer benefits. In this article we uncover ‘why’ you may want to go ahead and have that bedtime snack.

Protein before bed is especially important for active women

According to a study conducted by Florida State University, the benefits of a night-time, high-protein snack far outweigh the costs; particularly in women who lift weights. “There are no differences in overnight local belly fat metabolism or whole-body fat burn, whether you consume protein in the form of a shake during the day, post-workout or at night pre-sleep,” said Allman. “So, essentially, you can eat protein before bed and not disturb fat metabolism.”

Allman hopes this study along with further investigations will help demystify the science of women’s nighttime eating and clear away harmful, unfounded beliefs.

“There are such bad misconceptions about eating at night, that it will ‘make me gain weight’ or ‘slow my metabolism,’ she said. This really only holds true if you’re eating a ton of calories and they are carbohydrate and/or fat-laden. There are so many potential beneficial effects of eating protein at night.”

A scoop of protein before bed builds muscle and increases strength

In other studies, researchers have found that a scoop of protein powder before bed increases muscle protein synthesis.

Snijders’ 2015 study is the most compelling demonstration of this to date. The researchers put 44 healthy, young men on a 12-week lifting program. Half were given a nightly pre-sleep protein shake with 30 g of casein protein and 15 g of carbs. The other group was given an energy-free drink. Both groups ended up with impressive results, but those who consumed protein before bed gained significantly more muscle strength and size. 

With that said, some scientists remain skeptical. They say the results have more to do with an increase in total protein consumption over the course of the day.

Protein shake or protein meal before bed?
Cottage Cheese was used in the study as a bedtime snack

Furthermore, a separate study conducted by Florida State University in 2018 and published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that consuming 30 grams of protein 30 minutes before bed could have a positive effect on muscle quality, metabolism and overall health. The researchers also found there was no increase in body fat when eating protein at night.

The study participants — who were active young women in their early 20s — ate samples of cottage cheese 30 to 60 minutes before bed. Researchers also wanted to know if specific foods would make an impact on metabolic rate and muscle recovery.

They found that the common denominator in achieving such results was simply adding in extra protein before bed. Therefore, it appears as though you can eat a high protein food (such as cottage cheese), or drink a protein-rich shake and reap similar benefits.

Researchers say they hope to do further studies on the ‘best foods’ to consume before bed when it comes to enhancing recovery, repair and regeneration of muscle, along with improving overall health. 

And when it comes to burning fat, ‘pre-bed protein’ could actually give you a leg up. In a separate study, 11 young active men were given a pre-sleep casein shake. The findings showed an increase in the rate of fat-burning the following day. Reason being: casein ingestion has been proven to reduce the insulin response to subsequent meals, encouraging the body to use more fat as fuel.

The benefits of night-time protein go beyond muscle-building

Furthermore, scientists say we should also consider the thermogenic effect of protein as a fat loss strategy. Basically, the body requires energy to breakdown protein, which means we burn more calories just by eating it! As one of the three main macronutrients, protein is a key component when trying to build and/or sustain lean muscle mass. We also know that the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolic rate should be. This means you should be able to tolerate more calories than someone who doesn’t have as much muscle. Lastly, since protein is so satiating, you are less likely to overeat other calorie-laden foods by including it in every meal.

Based on the results of the studies, we know that pre-bed protein definitely won’t make you gain weight (at least not body fat). In fact, it appears to increase overall fat metabolism. And consuming it before bed doesn’t seem to affect quality of sleep, which means you can have it late at night and still reap the many benefits it provides during night-time rest.

Lastly, if you often feel like eating in the evening, a protein snack before bed may help to curb those cravings and suppress your appetite so that you can achieve your health and fitness goals without sabotaging your efforts in the gym.

So go ahead and include a protein night cap as part of your bedtime ritual!

Struggling to exercise at home? Find out how an online social network can motivate you

The closure of gyms has made ‘getting fit’ much more challenging. If you were a frequent gym-goer prior to the pandemic, then exercising in your living room probably doesn’t feel very inspiring. But here’s the good news: you’re not alone. In fact, according to research, if you are struggling to stay on track at home, you simply need to garner some social support.

According to this study, when you put people in the right kind of social environment where they can interact with each other (even anonymously), there will be some behaviour change.

In fact, even though the study participants knew very little about one another, the results indicate that even minimal exposure to social cues can have strong effects. Simply knowing that your peers are going to yoga class is enough motivation to get you into your workout clothes.

The influence of our social networks can be a powerful motivator to encourage more physical activity, says researchers. What this study reveals is that these same positive behavior signals are also powerful in our online networks.

Scientists and entrepreneurs have long understood the power of social influence — both positive and negative — in real-world situations. For example, negative behavior signals like watching a peer smoke or drink increases the likelihood that observers will follow suit. Or if a high schooler’s peers talk about how hard they studied for a test — a positive signal — he/she is more likely to hit the books too.

New experiments to explore why social networks are so effective for increasing participation are currently underway. Researchers are testing whether people are more motivated by competition or by friendly social support. The answer has implications for the entire field of organizations using social tools to help people lose weight, stop smoking, and live healthier lives.

Other ways to stay on track at home:

1) Invest in equipment that you will use: light to medium dumbbells, a mat, resistance bands and a cardio machine are a good start.

2) Get creative. If you don’t have fitness equipment use your body weight, soup cans, water bottles, a jump rope, furniture, the stairs etc. This adds the ‘fun’ factor.

3) Embrace the outdoors. There are many activities that can be done outside that are fun and safe.

4) Maintain a support system. Get your family on board with your new healthy lifestyle.

5) Have fun! Listen to podcasts, music and watch TV while you sweat it out.

It may be time for a total detox (if you have any of these signs or symptoms)

Do you exercise regularly, eat healthy, track your macros daily, yet still feel stuck when it comes to improving your body composition? First of all, we want you to know you aren’t alone and that this is more common than you may think. But it could also mean it may be time for a total detox (if you have any of these signs or symptoms):

You exercise daily but the scale isn’t budging

If you workout consistently yet you don’t see changes in your clothes or on the scale, it could be time to take a mini vacation or detox from exercise. Believe it or not, it’s definitely possible to workout too much. Instead, we suggest you take a de-load week and focus on stretching, meditation and yoga. Try getting outside for a walk, take a warm bath or curl up on the couch with a good book (to manage anxiety and stress). Also, if you are no longer losing weight, then it may be time to take a look at your nutrition.

You often feel tired and lethargic

If you are feeling exhausted or simply don’t have enough energy to get through your day, there could be more going on than lack of sleep. If you aren’t exercising, you may want to try incorporating 30 minutes of resistance training and/or cardio to your daily routine. However, lack of energy could also mean your body is deficient in certain nutrients. Many of us turn to packaged foods, fast food and caffeinated beverages as a way to manage our busy schedules. But when we aren’t fuelling our bodies with nutritious foods, the opposite happens. We simply don’t feel good, which creates a vicious cycle. When you don’t feel good or you’re tired, you are more likely to turn to unhealthy foods to bring up your energy.

You are bloated and/or have excess belly fat

If you struggle with bloating and/or excess belly fat, you could be suffering from carb sensitivity or insulin resistance. It’s easy to consume too many carbs because they are quick to prepare and make us feel full (at least temporarily). The problem, however, is that your body stores them as fat when it doesn’t need them. You can try limiting them at night or timing them around exercise, when your body needs them the most and uses them efficiently.

(Check out our recent article on carbs and why you may need to cut them out.)

Excess bloating and belly fat may be also be a sign that you need to eliminate them — at least for now. If it seems too extreme to cut carbs completely, try switching to slow-digesting, low-glycemic, high-fibre options such as: brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa, whole grain bread, beans, legumes, non-starchy vegetables and fruit. Since carbs carry water, this could be another reason why the scale goes up and/or you feel bloated. You may also be sensitive or allergic to some of the foods you are eating.

On a side note, if you aren’t having frequent bowel movements, this could be a sign you need to add more fibre, water and healthy fats to your diet.

You have unmanageable food cravings

It doesn’t matter if you crave salty or sweet — this is a sure sign your body may be deficient in something. It could also mean you have toxins that need to be released. The problem with cravings is that they tend to get out of hand and affect your ability to achieve your health and fitness goals. It’s really hard to stay on track if all you can think about are those cookies you saw at the bakery or the chips in your pantry — right?! It’s easy to say “don’t buy them”, but if you have a craving, nothing will stand in your way. The key is to stop cravings in their tracks before they get out of hand.

You are always hungry

Cravings are one sure way to sabotage your goals. But what about insatiable hunger? This is another reason why you may be struggling. And there are many reasons for this. Everything from eating too many refined carbs, to not eating enough protein to a lack of nutrients, to leaving too much time in between meals will leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. You may need a total reset to reduce your appetite, while also flooding your body with the right nutrients. Properly portioned macro-nutrients, meal timing and intermittent fasting are other strategies that help. Sometimes it’s not about hunger at all. You simply need to change your habits. For example, nighttime snacking is often a ritual, not necessarily a response to hunger.

You have problem skin, thin hair and/or brittle nails

These are some other signs that your body may not be getting what it needs (unless of course you have any underlying medical condition). Food sensitivities, allergies and deficiencies can show up in many different ways. Therefore, a great place to start is with your diet. Start by eliminating common food culprits such as gluten, dairy, wheat, corn, soy and refined sugar. You can also add in more protein, low glycemic foods, organic fruits/vegetables, grass fed meats and butter. In this study, participants who decreased the glycemic load in their diet, noticed improvements in their skin.