A few years ago when I quit smoking, I put on some weight. A lotta weight, even for me. I’ve never been a small dude, but I porked up pretty bad over the course of a couple of years. A pound here, a pound there and all of a sudden I was a blimp before I really noticed it happening. One summer, after seeing the big tub of goo wearing my suit in some wedding photos, I set my mind about losing the weight. Dr. Fiance suggested I check out this “abs diet” book. I bitched and moaned and made the obligatory snarky comments about how full of bullshit diet books are. But she insisted that this one wasn’t so bad, so I sat down and read the thing. And it didn’t suck. Surprisingly, the book’s theory on healthy eating mixed with a series of easy exercises made sense to me and didn’t sound idiotic. More importantly, it seemed like something I could do without losing my mind.
I’m not going to get into a big “you can do it too” speech, but it did actually work for me. I never achieved abs of steel, but I did lose 40 pounds over the course of the next year. And more importantly, three years later the weight is still off. The main thing I did was change my eating habits and to be more careful about the way that I eat. Once those habits were formed, I found that I just kept at it, even without thinking.
Unless you do 100% of your shopping at Whole Foods, you likely have a kitchen with lots of corn syrup in it right now. One of the big things I did as part of my diet was to stop eating foods with corn syrup entirely. Cold turkey. It is up for debate whether or not the lack of corn syrup allows my body to function better, and therefore burn calories more efficiently. However, avoiding corn syrup also helps me avoid other crappy things and eat healthier.
Corn syrup is in everything. You know how hard it is to find bread without corn syrup in a regular grocery store? When you start looking at ingredients and rejecting anything with corn syrup you will find that many of the products that you are used to buying are now something you can’t eat. Which is a good thing. Products with corn syrup tend to be the ones that are cheaply made and full of all kinds of other garbage as well. While this is not universally the case, if you have two similar products, one with corn syrup and one without, the one without is likely to be better for you. And, when you swear off the corn syrup you are less likely to pick up something on an impulse buy, since it’s pretty difficult to find junk food without corn syrup. Here ends my sermon on the evils of all things made with corn syrup. Except Mike & Ike’s. I love those little fuckers.
Another thing that I did was to start drinking protein smoothies after a workout. You can call them a protein shake if you want, but for some reason saying “shake” makes me sound like I should be wearing spandex and be overly tanned. Why? I can only assume because of idiotic tv commercials.
You can buy pre-made smoothies, but check the labels – almost all of them have corn syrup and a myriad of other dangerous sounding chemicals. Smoothies that you make a home are healthy and virtually impossible to screw up. And unlike the expensive ones you can buy at the chain stores these days, home made smoothies are super cheap. They can be made quickly after a workout to pump vitamins and protein and all the good stuff into your veins, right when you body is begging for calories. The other neat thing is that if you aerate your smoothie in the blender for a few extra minutes, you fill up your belly and you’re not hungry for a while. Plus, they taste delicious and you can make them with virtually anything you have around the house. Hungry but not ready for a full meal? Have a smoothie! Want something sweet, but don’t want something fatty? Have a smoothie! I know, I know, I sound like a massive made-for-tv douchebag. But if you look past the info-mericals (you need no special equipment other than a blender for this) you’ll see that it makes sense.
Orange and Banana Protein Smoothie
1 banana (if you have a frozen banana, even better)
1 cup of orange juice
6 oz of homemade yogurt (store bought works too, any flavor)
2 teaspoons of vanilla flavored whey protein powder (see note below)
4-5 ice cubes
Add all items into a blender. Pulse until ice and frozen banana are pretty well broken up, then mix for several minutes until it is super frothy and smooth. Enjoy!
- Add any fruit in addition or instead of the banana. Bananas makes a good base for just about any flavor and keeps the smoothie smoother. Any kind of berries are good too, frozen or unfrozen.
- Replace the OJ with skim milk and add in a couple tablespoons of peanut butter. A squirt of fat free chocolate syrup ain’t a bad idea either.
- If I have some spinach around I toss that in too. Again, doesn’t effect the taste much, but gets all the good stuff into your blood stream.
- You can also add in a handful of rolled oats if you need a little fiber. You barely notice it’s there.
Some final notes
Some smoothie purists distain the addition of ice cubes and prefer to only use all fruit and such. I’m cool with that, it just means using a lot more fruit and isn’t as cold (unless all of your fruit is frozen). I like the ice cubes, so it’s your call.
The purpose of the protein powder is to encourage muscle growth, and right after a workout is the best time to have some. Whey powder is ridiculously expensive and usually comes with this giant scoop for the suggested serving size. Throw that scoop away immediately unless you are seriously doing some insane weight gain muscle-beach type workout. I bought a 12oz jug of vanilla whey powder for $23 back in 2008 and still have 1/3 of it left. There are dozens of different brands and flavors.Does it actually do any good? Hard for me to say. I like to think that it does. If nothing else it adds a little vanilla tang to your smoothie. Plus you can call it a “protein smoothie” instead of just a smoothie. Makes it sound all healthy n’ shit. It sure beats drinking a bunch of raw eggs in a glass of milk, Rocky style.